I read an article in this morning’s newspaper that rang true for me. The substance of the article described how, in the U.S., we spend more on healthcare than any other country, yet we have a shorter life-expectancy than the other countries that have universal healthcare. This situation causes most citizens in the U.S. to make a difficult choice.
When examining healthcare in the U.S., you can divide the population into 3 categories. Those, who live at or below the poverty line, can receive some government assistance, which gives them access to some healthcare without spending money they don’t have. Those, who are considered to be wealthy, can afford to pay for healthcare that their insurance doesn’t cover. These days in the U.S., there is a lot that insurance doesn’t cover.
Then there are those, who comprise what is known as the middle class. Those of us who make enough to pay most or all of our routine expenses, the people who can occasionally save enough to take a vacation, make home improvements, or perhaps buy a new car. When someone in the middle class in the U.S. develops a health issue, that person has a decision to make. Do you seek healthcare and, many times, go into debt to pay for that healthcare? After your treatment, maybe you’re better, maybe not. It’s good if you get your health back, but now you’re in debt to the point that you can only work to pay your debt and do nothing more? What if after your treatment, you’re not better, yet you still have a crushing debt to deal with?
The shorter life-expectancy in the U.S. can be explained very simply. Many people are choosing to forgo seeking healthcare until their health situation is dire. The trade-off is that more time is spent being able to enjoy their life, even though their life may be shorter due to illness. Do you enjoy a shorter life, or do you live longer in the misery of debt? Placing the majority of its citizens in such a quandary does not speak well of a country that boasts of its greatness.