Daily Prompt: Right to Health
Is access to medical care something that governments should provide, or is it better left to the private sector? Are there drawbacks to your choice?
I will give you a Canadian perspective on this, after all growing up in Canada under Medicare. Just south of us, we have until recently watched as Americans paid their own, unless they had a company health plan.
A brief history of Medicare in Canada. In 1947 Tommy Douglas, the Premier of the Province of Saskatchewan and his Co-operative Commonwealth Federation Party introduced the first hospital insurance plan in Canada. The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, or CCF as it was more commonly referred to, was the first elected Socialist party to govern in North America. This of course was not looked upon well, south of the border, after all the Cold War was just ramping up. ten years later Paul martin a Liberal introduced a bill in the Canadian parliament, to create a national hospital insurance program. Today the battle to re-privatize the system continues.
I support government’s providing access to necessary medical treatments that would impoverish families. However there needs to be a clearly defined set of criteria for determining these procedures. Also the government needs to bring in extra charges for those people who impair their health through poor lifestyle choices. This doesn’t have to follow the private model of a larger insurance premium. Rather as has been proposed bring in a junk food tax, with all proceeds going to treat obesity, diabetes, and other illnesses created by over consumption of these foods. Think of this approach as a user fee for choosing unhealthy options, with the more you make bad choices, the more you pay for them. Smokers, should have their products taxed to cover the costs associated with cancers of the mouth, lungs, throat. Gasoline should have part of the taxes, and here in Canada it’s higher than some countries, allocated to covering the health hazards from exhaust, poisoning etc. yes, I can hear some people say, but what about, this case, or that case. By starting to target the contributors to bad health, we would be passing along the true cost of these behaviors, to the producers and consumers. Imagine if the alcohol related industries, had to fund the cost of the addiction programs related to alcohol, or the casinos were required to fund programs to assist gambling addicts. People would still have choices, about how they live, consume and spend their money, however they would be funding their own treatment programs.
Imagine a world where it’s cheaper to buy milk, or the soy equivalent cheaper than soft drinks. Where fresh fruit is cheaper than a bag of potato chips. Where prepared products don’t have 120% of your daily recommended daily allowance of sodium in a single serving. Where fresh, nutritious food, is readily available at a reasonable cost, and the producers make a livable income. Yes home gardens would make a comeback, which means we would get some exercise in the garden on a regular basis.
Industries, that create land, water or air pollution which affects the welfare of plants, animals and humans should be paying into funds to clean up after themselves, rather than going out of business, and letting the taxpayers spend billions to clean up later. There are service station sites in prime locations in cities in Canada, that have laid behind chain link fences, for over 20 years, while the company allows nature to dilute the ground contamination. They should be paying to return the site to use, with in 2 or 3 years at the most, after closing the station.
So government run healthcare is the way to go, however use the ideas that can help reduce cost, improve timely service, and apportion personal choice related costs to the appropriate party. By taxing the ways and items we impair our health, will make healthier choices the easier choice. A few pennies of prevention is worth more than pounds of loonies (Canada’s one dollar coin’s nickname) for the cure.