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Making America Healthy Again 3-Pack

Program #BEZ010-BEZS009-BEZS008.

Economic Inequality Kills

Given that people in the U.S. spend more money on health care than the rest of the world combined, then logic would dictate that we have the best health outcomes. Well, we don’t. Why? Increasing evidence from epidemiologists— the scientists who study the health of populations — indicates that everything from life expectancy to infant mortality to obesity, can be linked to the level of economic inequality within a given population. Almost a quarter of U.S. families live in poverty, the highest of all rich nations. Poor health and poverty go hand-in-hand. Checkups are deferred. Pain is endured. People engage in wishful thinking, i.e., maybe that numbness in my foot will just go away. Single payer universal health care would go a long way toward addressing our absurdly expensive health care system and reducing the number of unnecessary early deaths.

Making America Healthy Again

The U.S. pays more for health care than any other country yet has shamefully poor results. People are paying through the nose for their hospital stays, surgeries and prescription drugs. An MRI in the U.S. costs five times what it costs in Australia. Instead of quality affordable health care we are building absurdly expensive F-35s, submarines and aircraft carriers. And there is a cool $ trillion for nuclear weapons. Our spending priorities are upside down. Every other industrialized country has universal health care. Since the 1970s surveys have shown most people in the U.S. want a single-payer, universal health care program. But Washington says: That’s off the table. So even though the public wants it, our so-called representatives, except for Bernie Sanders and a few others, are not considering it. Maybe we should look to Slovenia for inspiration.

In Sickness & in Wealth

It's no secret. The poor get the short end of the stick in multiple ways. They live shorter lives and suffer from almost every social problem from lack of decent housing to lousy food to no healthcare to being isolated and reviled. Poverty results in toxic levels of stress. Among the countries in the world, the U.S. ranks in the "top" five in measurable stress, according to an ongoing Gallup survey. Consumerism and the so-called good life are elevated to an almost idyllic plain. But selfish me tooism lead a lot of people to an emotional dead end. It's time to move beyond vacuous slogans such as Looking Out for Number One. Cooperation and collaboration are salubrious. Why does it make good medical as well as moral sense to have a healthy society?

Speaker(s):

Stephen Bezruchka

Stephen Bezruchka is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington in Seattle. He worked for many years as an emergency physician in Seattle. His particular areas of research are population health and societal hierarchy. He spent over 10 years in Nepal working in various health programs, and teaching in remote regions. He is author of numerous articles and essays. He is a contributor to Sickness and Wealth, a book on the effects of global corporatization on health.

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