The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Capitalist Health Care:
Your Money or Your Life

Jul 17, 2017

The Republicans made the repeal of what they call “Obamacare” a main theme of their electoral campaign–for seven years they promised to get rid of it. Trump himself declared he would replace it with the best medical care anyone had ever seen and it would cover everyone.

So far, it hasn’t worked, even though Trump, the spoiled billionaire, is throwing his usual political tantrum, threatening to leave parts of the health care system to crash and burn, and telling the Republicans to practically blow apart the health care system.

If anything shows just how rotten the Republicans are, it is their plan to carry out massive cuts to health care spending, depriving tens of millions of people of vital health care, in order to turn that money over to the very wealthiest parts of the population and the big companies.

And if anything shows just how inhumane and cynical the Republicans are, it is how ready they are to play politics with the entire health care system, on which much of the population depends.

This puts the Democrats in a position to denounce and expose Republican maneuvers. But the Democrats certainly haven’t offered real medical care reform to working people.

Under Obama, the Democrats did pass a big health care law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which they promised would greatly extend health insurance to much of the uninsured, and improve health care to those who already had insurance. They extended Medicaid and set up health insurance exchanges run by the government.

But the 10 million working poor who got Medicaid coverage found that Medicaid coverage was severely limited. They had no access to doctors and hospitals they wanted to see or treatment they needed. As for the 10 million who went into the exchanges, they found that the system was so complicated and convoluted at every level, it was hard to get care, especially care that they could afford. And many resented the new government mandate that if they didn’t buy private insurance, the government would fine them.

The ACA didn’t come close to fulfilling all those promises that the Democrats made to the uninsured. This was not surprising, since the Democrats’ plan was written by the health insurance companies and big hospital groups as a way to assure them more paying customers and greater profits–while the costs that they imposed on the population skyrocketed. The ACA was simply built on top of the same, rotten profit-driven health care system.

And that’s the problem–profit.

That’s what’s really driving the skyrocketing cost of medical care: insurance company profits, pharmaceutical profits, doctor group profits, hospital company profits, various facility profits, etc. This is a system in which insurance companies take 25 or 30 cents of every dollar that people spend on health care, and then put up all kinds of barriers for people to actually get the treatment they need. In this system, drug companies often charge hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for a life saving treatment, and if someone can’t afford it, they can very easily be left to die. It is one more way the capitalist class holds the working population hostage. In medical care, it truly is: “your money or your life.”

Every single person in this country could have decent access to good medical care: good doctors, competent technicians, hospitals whose concern is the patient, etc. Remove profit from the system, and we would be a big step along the way to getting that.

This country spends two or three times as much on health care per person than does any other country, but we have much worse medical outcomes than any other developed country. Much worse.

Get rid of profit–it really is a case of “money or your life.” Their money–our lives.