Capitalism and Health
Is health care a right or just another commodity, subject to market fluctuations, to be bought and sold? As long ago as 1944, FDR said that health care was a right. A few years later, Truman tried to advance a national health plan. He got nowhere. Our health care system is located in a political economy known as capitalism often euphemistically called the free market. And because of that it is private and profit driven. The critical question which should be asked is: Is Capitalism and efficient cost-effective economic model which produces desirable health care outcomes? Supporters of the status quo say it’s working just fine and only needs some fine-tuning. Critics are not so generous. They say if you got the bread you get the care and if you don’t, see you in the ER or in the morgue.
Stephen Bezruchka is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington. He worked for many years as an emergency physician in Seattle. His particular areas of research are population health and societal hierarchy. He has 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 Divided: the perils of our growing inequality, New Press, 2014.