Health Security for All

Health security for SOME isn’t good enough.”

Universal health coverage is a political goal rooted in the human right to health. But no right has ever been guaranteed until people decided to fight for it.”

December 12 marks the fifth anniversary of the unanimous endorsement by the United Nations of universal health coverage. Universal Health Coverage Day will be observed and discussed at a meeting in Santa Barbara at the Karpeles Library from 5:30-7 p.m.

Sustainable health systems must: Cover all people, including the poorest and most vulnerable; provide a full range of essential health services; be paid for, proportionally, by everyone, through pre-payment (taxes and/or premiums); guarantee access to care based on need and unrelated to ability to pay.

More than 58 other countries (but not the U.S.) have legislation mandating universal health care and coverage. Compared to the U.S., all of them spend much less of their GDP on health care, and all spend dramatically less on insurance administration.

The U.S. is drifting away from universal coverage and affordability. A recent article by Drew Altman, CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said “31 percent of Americans age 18-64 report they or a family member face problems paying their health care bills. But that number shoots up to 57 percent for people who are sick.” The current proposed Federal tax reform reinforces that trend.

Many Americans, including politicians, are supporting efforts to achieve universal health coverage at both the state and national level, but many more are needed. All of us need to be better educated about how other countries structure their health-care finances and delivery. We then need to demand that our politicians act based on the needs of all the people, not just those profiting from the current failed system.

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