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:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail