Why did United Auto Workers walk off General Motors' assembly lines and onto the picket lines two days ago--for the first time in thirty years? Well, the biggest reason affects more than just their membership, that's for sure. Health care (both for their active employees and retirees) was a huge hot-button topic--so much so that UAW saw the need to communicate that to GM with a strike.
But one can't help feeling some sympathy for the embattled Number One US automaker. All corporations have been dealing with health care costs that have spiraled completely out of control in recent years. I myself have seem my health care premiums soar and my level of service plummet just in the last five years alone.
The UAW has been the latest of some really heavy-hitters to shine the harsh light of criticism on our obviously-broken heath care system. While I'm not a huge fan of Michael Moore, he does highlight a horrific problem with our current private-sector, for-profit health care industry: namely, it's private-sector and for-profit.
We are the last industrialized nation to not have some sort of state-funded health care system in place, and the blame for that can be laid squarely at the feet of the Republican party. Thanks to them, almost sixteen percent of the U.S. population has no health insurance at all and 50% are woefully underinsured. These numbers are the highest ever for the United States.
By the way, almost eight and a half million of the 46.6 million Americans with no health coverage at all are children.
According to every other industrialized nation, health care is a right, not a privilege. But not here. Here, when you get sick, you go to the hospital--until you're broke, then you go bankrupt. Meanwhile, George W. Asshole spent most of his first term slashing taxes for the wealthy and catering to Big Insurance (as well as other big businesses). Nice.
The last fifty years have proven that big insurance and big medical cannot be counted on to police itself--or to do what's right. Americans are tired of hearing "tough shit" when it comes to health care.
I'm telling you, I'm becoming more and more disillusioned with my country as the days go by. If I could, I swear to God I would pack up and move to England.
Y'know, I was re-reading this entry and thinking about my good buddy PipeWrench, who is a very conservative Republican. He believes (as most Republicans do) that we Americans are responsible for ourselves and we should be going out and buying our own insurance and not begging the government for a handout.
Sadly, while PipeWrench is in the majority of people in this country who have health insurance, he is in an extremely small minority when it comes to the worldwide population of industrialized nations. People from Canada, or most of Western Europe would listen to his ideals and then look at him like he was completely nuts.
Increasingly, most Americans nowadays would look at him like he was nuts, too--I don't know if you've tried to obtain health insurance on your own and not through your employer, but it is practically impossible--heath insurance companies deny almost everyone on an individual basis for the most asinine reasons. And, if you're lucky enough to actually obtain it, it's astronomically expensive. But then again, so is the average hospital visit--a typical visit to the trauma ward after an accident costs roughly $22,000. And that's not even accounting for getting a terminal disease, like cancer or leukemia.
I'd like to ask PipeWrench if he'd like to shell out that kind of money on his own without any kind of health coverage, or save up that money just in case he happens to get hurt. But I've learned my lesson not to engage PipeWrench in discussions of a political nature. I like him and want to keep him as a friend.