Our inadequate, for-profit healthcare system is taking a heavy toll on America’s well-being. Americans under 50 are sicker and have shorter life spans than people in other wealthy nations, according to a new study by the National Academies, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services. And this health disadvantage affects all races and classes, even high-income Americans and the insured. However, in one exception, Americans who are fortunate enough to reach 75 tend to live longer than their counterparts in other rich nations. The report says the United States ranks at or near the bottom in several key areas, including:
infant mortality and low birth weight; injuries and homicides; teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections; prevalence of HIV and AIDS; drug-related deaths; obesity and diabetes; heart disease; chronic lung disease; and disability.
What sets the other rich nations apart from the U.S. is that they all have some form of universal health care: from government-provided coverage to heavily-regulated insurance models. They also have lower rates of poverty and higher rates of social mobility. The important thing is, people shouldn’t have to wait until their golden years to have access to affordable, quality health care. People shouldn’t have to spend their most productive years sick and in fear of bankruptcy from illness. It’s past time to allow everyone into Medicare.