My name is Wendell Potter and for 20 years, I worked as a senior executive at health insurance companies, and I saw how they confuse their customers and dump the sick –- all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors.
Source: Wall Street Journal
The U. S. health system spends a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country but ranks 37 out of 191 countries according to its performance, according to the World Health Organization‘s World Health Report 2000.
“The United States spends more than twice as much on health care as the average of other developed nations, all of which boast universal coverage. Yet over 39 million Americans have no health insurance whatsoever, and most others are underinsured, in the sense that they lack adequate coverage for all contingencies (e.g., long-term care and prescription drug costs). However, other systems that are completely or partially based on social risk-pooling principles are under threat from neoliberal policies worldwide.
Why is the U. S. so different? The short answer is that the U.S. is alone in treating health care as a commodity distributed according to the ability to pay, rather than as a social service to be distributed according to medical need.”
Wendell Potter: How Corporate PR Works to Kill Health Care Reform
When I testified before the Senate Commerce Committee in late June, I told the senators how the industry has conducted duplicitous and well-financed PR and lobbying campaigns every time Congress has tried to reform our health care system, and how its current behind-scenes-efforts may well shape reform in a way that benefits Wall Street far more than average Americans. I noted that, just as they did 15 years ago when the insurance industry led the effort to kill the Clinton reform plan, it is using shills and front groups to spread lies and disinformation to scare Americans away from the very reform that would benefit them most. The industry, despite its public assurances to be good-faith partners with the President and Congress, has been at work for years laying the groundwork for devious and often sinister campaigns to manipulate public opinion.
Universal health care is health care coverage for all eligible residents of a political region and often covers medical, dental and mental health care. Typically, costs are borne in the majority by publicly-funded programs.
In Australia, Medibank — as it was then known — was introduced, by the Whitlam Labor government on 1 July 1975, through the Health Insurance Act 1973. The Australian Senate rejected the changes multiple times and they were passed only after a joint sitting after the 1974 double dissolution election. However, Medibank was supported by the subsequent Fraser Coalition (Australia) government and became a key feature of Australia’s public policy landscape. The exact structure of Medibank/Medicare, in terms of the size of the rebate to doctors and hospitals and the way it has administered, has varied over the years. The original Medibank program proposed a 1.35% levy (with low income exemptions) but these bills were rejected by the Senate, and so Medibank was funded from general taxation. In 1976, the Fraser Government introduced a 2.5% levy and split Medibank in two: a universal scheme called Medibank Public and a government-owned private health insurance company, Medibank Private.
During the 1980s, Medibank Public was renamed Medicare by the Hawke Labor government, which also changed the funding model, to an income tax surcharge, known as the Medicare Levy, which was set at 1.5%, with exemptions for low income earners. The Howard Coalition government introduced an additional levy of 1.0%, known as the Medicare Levy Surcharge, for those on high annual incomes ($70,000) and do not have adequate levels of private hospital coverage. This was part of an effort by the Coalition to encourage take-up of private health insurance. According to WHO, government funding covered 67.5% of Australia’s health care expenditures in 2004; private sources covered the remaining 32.5% of expenditures.
Direct comparisons of health statistics across nations are complex. The Commonwealth Fund, in its annual survey, “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall”, compares the performance of the health care systems in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and the U.S. Its 2007 study found that, although the U.S. system is the most expensive, it consistently underperforms compared to the other countries. A major difference between the U.S. and the other countries in the study is that the U.S. is the only country without universal health care