According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the United States has the most expensive health care system in the world yet consistently underperforms when compared to nations such as the UK, Canada, Germany, Sweden, France and Japan. For example, the life expectancy rate in the United States is 78 years old, which is nearly four years lower than the average life span of an Italian.
Is an American life less valuable that the life of an Italian? Americans actually live shorter life spans than people in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and the UK.
The statistics are telling in other important categories. The American infant mortality rate doubles that of Japan. In fact, Slovenia and Cypress have lower rates than the United States. When looking at preventative deaths per 100,000 residents we find that the US rate of 96 nearly doubles France’s 55. All the while, the American government spends $7,337 per citizen, which is more than double the amount Germany and the UK spend combined.
Mohandas Gandhi once said: “To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.”
Our political leaders believe that Americans deserve a health care system that is effective, cost-affordable, and progressive. These same leaders also purport to believe that our nation can meet the challenges of the 21st Century. Why then are they unable to deliver a health care system that ranks higher than 37th in the world? It can’t be because single payer health coverage is economically unviable.
The Physicians for a National Health Program have demonstrated that our country will save 350 billion dollars annually in preventive savings alone. (Never mind the tremendous savings in administrative overhead associated with the private insurance companies.)
As stewards of the future we have a moral obligation to create a system that will leave our grandchildren’s grandchildren not only a biosphere but also a biology that allows them to thrive. We have a social contract not only with our government and fellow citizens living today but also a social contract with the inhabitants living on our planet many years from now.
Payne is founder of the Rochester based Gandhi Earth Keepers International.