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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: The problem with private healthcare

The worst problems of the American health care industry will never be addressed until health care stops being a private commodity and becomes a public good.

We continually hear rhetoric about how health care is far too expensive in America, not enough Americans have access to health care and pharmaceutical companies have far too much influence in the type of health care a patient in need will receive.

Many Americans believe that the American health care system is broken to the point of tragedy.

The U.S. pays a total of $650 billion, according to Diana Farrell of McKinsey and Company Management Consulting. This is more than reasonable, given our level of wealth and development. Roughly two-thirds of the $650 billion goes to outpatient care, while the remaining third of the money is spent on pharmaceutical and administration costs.

Unfortunately, these costs do not result in a real improvement in health care. The U.S. is ranked 26 out of 34 in the OECD  countries for life expectancy ranking, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

It’s clear that our health care system is broken and the reason why is simple—corporate profits seem to be more important than the financial security of patients.

Within a developed nation there is no reason why one person is allowed to die while another is given medicine to live simply because one makes more money than the other. There are some services that are necessary to empower the very concept of human dignity.

There is no debate over the right to access clean water, or the right to eat, or the right to breath. All of these are viewed as rights that one should have by virtue of being human, and the justifications for keeping those public goods cheap and easily accessible are self-evident. Yet the right to be seen by a health care professional when you need it the most is not. The right to be viewed as more than just a commodity, beholden to increasing the wealth of the already super-wealthy, is regularly challenged in the United States.

The issue of providing health care to all who need it, not just those who can afford it, is well beyond the scope of an economic issue. This is a humanitarian issue and we need to restore human dignity to those who have been denied it.

Affordable healthcare is an especially relevant issue to the community of Tucson. Banner Health University Medical Center, the largest private health care company in Arizona, purchased the University Medical Center in June 2015. Within the pages of the deal, they promised to provide over $1 billion in benefits to the UA, ranging from paying off old debts, to providing funding for academic medical research and a promise of $500 million in new capital.

The benefits in the deal proved to be great enough for the Arizona Board of Regents to sign the deal.

I do no mean to belittle the Banner Health organization. They have done amazing work as a nonprofit and seem to be legitimately interested in helping the Arizona community receive professional health care, but institutionally their business model is a problem.

As long as private ownership of hospitals and other means of health care exists, there will be those who look to make a profit off of it, and therefore some who are denied access or affordability.

Follow Jackson Morrison on Twitter.

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