FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

American Health Care: a Cuban Fix

by

Despite the fact that the US altogether spends arguably more on public health than any other economic force in the West, next to nothing about its healthcare system is democratic. Like most everything else, this industry, or market sector, only exists to serve profit motive. Any ostensibly beneficial components, which might appear to favor the marginalized, are little more than the usual rotten fruits of a welfare capitalism that keeps the poor, working class divided against itself. As the system grows more and more costly, the rich get richer and the poor invariably continue to suffer. Ultimately, radically democratic change in American healthcare is necessary to fix the problem, and Cuba holds the answer.

When compared to all other so-called “industrialized” democracies, the United States of America is the only one that does not afford its people universal healthcare. The truth is that the healthcare industry is one of the most important pillars of the American economy for the rich; through capitalizing on illness and highly anti-democratic pricing, the plutocracy pools and stratifies incredible amounts wealth. Public funds do little more than grease the profiteering skids. Moreover, the ghastly amount spent on public health is not some dutiful act of governmental benevolence, some compliance representative of popular, democratic sentiment; rather, it is merely another indication of the reverse funneling of public coffers.

Such an incredible amount of spending does not even ensure Americans the best healthcare in the world. It certainly does not secure for its people the best system that money can buy. One report tells of at least 45,000 people dying yearly as a result of having no healthcare or access to it. Furthermore, many social democracies and communist countries from all latitudes score higher than the Yanks when it comes to public health measures and progress on that front. Cuba, say, actually does more with less.

A country like Cuba cannot afford to allow private enterprises to milk public pockets, nor does it want that for itself. Cuba has invoked a radically democratic means to ensure public health standards rise rather than fall in earnest. The result? Cuban healthcare far exceeds that of the US, and it does a far better job treating its body politic than America does her own.

The fact is that Cuban healthcare is second to none. So, Americans should choose to learn from Cuba’s example, rather than falling victim to the systematized rhetoric that claims all things Cuban, and therefore all things communist, are inherently evil and of no use to them. Actually looking to some of the key components of Cuba’s sustainably democratic model would save the US populace both money and lives.  The following are a six Cuban methods which the American people should adopt – forcefully, if necessary – in order to make healthcare cheaper, more democratic, and universal for all people living within the US.

Access

In order to shrink the existing disparity in its people’s healthcare, Cuba endeavored for complete accessibility. Increased accessibility thus led to the adoption of a universal system, one which yielded unprecedented levels of healthcare for all Cubans. By 1999, Cuba boasted one doctor per every 175 Cubans. With greater access and a new system predicated on it, new medical jobs were also created around the country.

Ingenuity and Innovation

Cuban policy allocates large amounts of funding to research. A poorer nation than the US, Cuba actually strives to comply with World Health Organization recommendations: Cuba funds a percentage of all health-related costs, as well a portion of its research and training programs. This is also born out of necessity; due to the US and its embargo-driven transgressions against the poor island nations, many vaccinations had to be developed in-house, rather than traded-for, with other nations. Still, Cuba has funded many break-through revolutions in the medical field. The US needs to have at least the same policy toward funding its medical research.

Public Funding

Due to the fact that Cuba’s health system is principally funded by the state, free preventive medical treatment and diagnostic testing are offered the people as a mainstay of its healthcare ethos. Cuba also offers certain free medications and other subsidizing options as an added value to the people. This keeps healthcare cheaper while also keeping the public perhaps healthier than it otherwise might be.

Prevention and Primary Care

Cuba subscribes to the Alma Ata Declaration, guaranteeing “Health for All.” Cuba thus focuses largely on its primary care. Many research experts claim that Cuba maintains this dedication to “health for all” more comprehensively than anywhere else in the world, especially the US. As the benchmark of the Cuban healthcare system is primary care, the resulting system roots itself in a social health that seeks not only to aid its people, but also to engender a nation-wide culture of health. The people thus see the benefits of universal healthcare and these, its other components, and they endeavor democratically to improve upon it.

Integration

Specialized care means that each medical consultation will, if necessary, result in referrals to specific “polyclinics” that exist within each community. Cuba’s integrated system has therefore led to a decrease in hospital visits and to hospitalization in general. This absolutely drives down costs. Patients released from the hospitals receive home visits from their doctors as well. This system style allows Cuba to cope with unparalleled economic strains while also providing radically democratic, world-class healthcare in any community.

Planning

The Cuban health ministry broadened not only the quality of care it provides, but also it improved efficiency and efficacy. Satisfying the needs of the population increased nearly in tandem with these efforts. Many of Cuba’s different state sectors were integrated, including the social and economic areas that also affect its public health. This planning was underscored by public participation and democratic management, as well as educational efforts on the front to sustain improvements in Cuba’s general public health.

Ultimately, the status of rich nations, like the US, continues to evince that wealth is no guarantor of great health care. At the same time, a very poor country with communist leanings far outstrips the US in myriad aspects of public health and healthcare. Arguably, the Cuban healthcare system is for the people, by the people, while the US system remains for the profit off ’the people.  The exemplary distinction drawn between the nations of Cuba and the US can only further solidifies this for any potential skeptic.

If Americans adopt these elements from Cuban model in order to improve healthcare, then tailoring them to the many cultural nuances present in American society could reshape American healthcare in both fiscal manageability and democratic control. The public will gain from this. Furthermore, a reduction in the spending (indirect and direct) that lubricates America’s current backwards healthcare system would yet afford the public economic power to grow other segments of the economy. Such a transformation in American healthcare is well within the realm of possibility, almost to the point of inevitability. Nevertheless, employing these measures firstly assumes that Americans do, in fact, want a better, more democratic healthcare system. Hopefully, they do.

Mateo Pimentel lives on the Mexican-US border.

Mateo Pimentel lives on the Mexican-US border. You can follow him on Twitter @mateo_pimentel.

More articles by:
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail