Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Cruel Economics of Health Care in America

by SETH SANDRONSKY

The cost of U.S. health care has climbed 43 percent over the past nine years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This price increase is close to double the over-all inflation rate of 26 percent in the same nine years.

We are looking at an inflationary trend that negatively affects the living standards of the nation’s working people. And the lower U.S. workers’ hourly wages, the more negative the impact, as they are less likely to have employer-provided health care to begin with.

Increasingly, state politics reflects the ill effects of the U.S. health system on the working populace. Recent health-care legislation in Massachusetts is an example.

On the other side of the country, California state Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) crafted Senate Bill 840 to provide all Californians with high-quality, comprehensive health care. Currently, six million people in the state have no health-care coverage.

Against this backdrop, those with health care coverage in California and nationwide are paying more for doctor visits and medicine. Meanwhile, health-insurance premiums are rising.

SB 840 passed both houses of the state Legislature on its way to the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. As expected, he vetoed the legislation.

“SB 840 relies on the failed old paradigm of using one source–this time the government–to solve the complex problem of providing medical care for our people,” said the Republican governor in a press statement.

Presumably, the government can only make bad matters worse for health-care consumers. Accordingly, the complexity of health-care delivery is best left to market forces.

SB 840 would have established the state government as the single payer of health insurance premiums. Private insurers would have been eliminated.

The day of the Schwarzenegger veto thousands of public-sector workers in Sacramento County went on strike in the biggest such labor action in decades. The main reason they walked out of work was to protest county management’s push to shift more health-care costs on them.

The county workers’ fear of health-care inflation was well-founded. That these striking workers eventually went back to work and traded wage increases to bear more of the cost for health care is in no way the end of this local story with national relevancy.

The commonality of U.S. workers coping with the crisis of the health-care market is growing. Whether in or out of labor unions, a mass of wage-earners across the nation can not help but see more clearly with each passing day their actual place in the health-care system that corporate America (for-profit hospitals and health maintenance organizations, and drug companies) owns and controls.

A U.S. health-care system that is broken as far as hourly workers are concerned functions perversely well for a relatively few companies who profit from this set-up. Such understanding occurs in small steps among the working majority who will in the end have to mobilize on the basis of their class positions to win universal health care from ruling circles of economic and political power.

The upper class forces trying to prevent that outcome are weak in number and strong in resources. In 2006, this situation harkens back to past times in U.S. history that have spawned a working-class politics to better people’s living standards.

SETH SANDRONSKY is a member of Sacramento Area Peace Action and a co-editor of Because People Matter, Sacramento’s progressive paper. He can be reached at: ssandron@hotmail.com.

 

 

Seth Sandronsky is a Sacramento journalist and member of the freelancers unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild. Emailsethsandronsky@gmail.com

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
Graham Peebles
Ethiopian’s Crying out for Freedom and Justice
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail