Imitating US Healthcare

There are some inspiring stories from US healthcare, amongst them those from Kaiser Permanente (covered in more detail in a different blog).

Here's the inspiring story of Health Leads, founded by Rebecca Onie, in a video lasting 16 1/2 minutes.


But it tells me something a little different.

At the moment, we in UK have a healthcare and welfare system that by-and-large keeps people well.  We have excellent life opportunities for every person, and the sad situation that we are rich enough to kill ourselves doesn't change the opportunities we have.

The subtext of Ms Onie's talk illustrates this social devastation in a morally bankrupt :: materially rich country - where

  • children and the elderly are dying from malnutrition and lack of heating (lack of basic needs),
  • can't take medication because they can't afford it, and anyway can't take the medication with food because there isn't any
  • dirt and pests aggravate asthma and respiratory conditions, which leads to the worklessness spiral

and it has been known about for decades and government has been trying to stop caring for decades (listen again to minute 4:08 Jack Geiger).

What we can learn

As we move away from tax-funded healthcare, to insurance funding and co-payments, we move away from universal health and welfare and away from civilised society.

We will find ourselves with higher childhood mortality, lower life expectancy, a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) amongst the rich nations but a quality of life amongst the poor nations - and you can be sure that the GDP will quickly follow the quality of life, because quality of life requires investment!

We can learn that a lot of the social and community movements in USA are imitating the UK efficiency and effectiveness, and to imitate USA is to take a step backwards.

Of course there are shining lights that we should certainly imitate.  But we also need to heed the warning!