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.
Dr. Stephen Bezruchka is on the faculty of the Department of Global Health and the Department of Health Services at the University of Washington. He worked for many years as an emergency physician in Seattle. He worked in Nepal for more than a decade where he helped set up a community health project a week’s walk from the road. He also established a remote district hospital for training Nepali doctors whom he supervised. He is the author of Inequality Kills Us All: COVID-19’s Health Lessons for the World.
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