Zach Bay and Andeonke Bambgose
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
We need universal health care in this country and as the recent reform process has taught us, it is not likely to happen nationally without a successful state-based example. While Vermont is well on it is way to passing legislation to create a single-payer system, in Illinois we are working to rally support for the Illinois Universal Health Care Act (HR 311)
Health care should be treated as a human right and not a commodity. Not only is single-payer the right thing to do, it is also the most cost-effective way to cover everyone, according to the recent Harvard study
for the Vermont Legislature.
Over the past few weeks, while recruiting students to take part in our upcoming lobby day, we’ve had many conversations about why this is something we should fight for. For us, the primary answer is that it is absurd that the system treats health care as a commodity. Unlike other commodities, you can die if you don’t have adequate health care. As many as 44,789 deaths
per year in the United States are associated with lack of health insurance, more than the number of deaths due to kidney disease. It is unlike other commodities because you don’t die if you don’t have a nice car and you won’t be crippled for life if you don’t have the most expensive food to eat. You won’t have to walk around worrying about the risk of sudden death or losing the sensation in your feet and hands if you don’t have the most expensive clothes. Health care cannot be treated as a commodity because the consequences of not having health care are not frivolous; it is a life and death issue, an issue that significantly pertains to quality of life and your upward mobility in terms of finding a job and being able to take care of yourself and your family.
In every other developed country, health care is treated as a human right. The World Health Organization (WHO) constitution reads, "the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being." It must be provided to everyone equally. That is why in every other developed country, there is a health coverage system provided by the state. We are 37 out of 191 countries according to the WHO’s ranking of health care system performance
because we fail to do this.
As a nation and as a state, we can do better. We expect better for our profession and for our patients.
If you are in Illinois and are interested in participated in the April 11 lobby day, you can sign up here