Why does the United States, a world leader, not make sure that all its residents are covered by health insurance? Other countries can do this; why can't we?
The President of the American Public Health Association, Walter Tsou, wrote recently in The Nation's Health that we are very unlikely to reach the 2010 U.S. national health objective to ensure that all Americans are covered by health insurance. "Short of a political miracle," Dr. Tsou wrote, "it is unlikely we will reach this goal. The price that we pay for our national failure is a missed opportunity that is much larger than most of us realize."
Universal health coverage, to at least a basic level for all, is a moral obligation.
Moreover, Dr. Tsou points to many practical benefits. For example, it will help protect companies who will struggle during the coming decades with retiree health costs; it will offer a solution to the nation's medical malpractice crisis. It will resolve issues that arose with those in Hurricane Katrina's diaspora who lack health insurance - who covers their care, their original state or their new state? Rather than delaying care and focusing attention on paperwork and reimbursement regulations, in crises or normal situations, universal health coverage enables health care programs to focus on care.
Dr. Tsou notes that the United States is "the only nation in the developed world that continues to do a 'wallet biopsy' before an actual biopsy.