Someone on Twitter linked to this document Dying for Coverage: The Deadly Consequences of Being Uninsured by Families USA. And, I read it. And, I was horrified. One of the statistics quoted is that more people in California in 2010 died because of a lack of health insurance than in car accidents. Now, I’m not unfamiliar with the shite which passes as the US healthcare system. You can’t grow up in Canada in a place which only had American TV channels accessible or attend uni in a border town without getting at least a passing understanding of its all-round crapness. But, the idea that more people die from lack of adequate healthcare than in car accidents [with the sheer number of stupid people who are apparently legally entitled to drive; some as young as 15] is just jaw-dropping.
Living on the border with the US, you see lots of healthcare tourists. Many are elderly people on pensions travelling several days on buses in order to buy their prescription medications for pretty basic conditions like asthma and diabetes [and I say basic because the treatments like ventolin have been on the market for years and cost very little in Canada or the UK]. The use of the term “tourism” is just farcical. Travelling 4 days on a bus when you’re 75 to get treatment for diabetes is not the sign of a civilised nation. And, it’s hardly surprising that the states with the highest amount of deaths due to lack of health insurance are the states with the largest populations of Hispanics, African-Americans and other ethnic minorities. Nothing says racism quite like poor access to healthcare. Nothing says racism quite like institutionalised and systemic murder through lack of basic healthcare. And, there can be no debate on this. A child who dies of cancer because they can’t afford the treatment isn’t dying because of cancer. They are being murdered by a society that doesn’t give a shit.
The Affordable Care Act comes into effect in 2014. It still won’t guarantee basic health insurance for every person living in the US and that’s only if the evil Republicans don’t get it vetoed [and anyone who participates in that should be going straight to hell]. This bill still doesn’t cover universal access to birth control, abortion or maternity services. The US has one of the highest rates of maternal death in “Western-Industrialised” economies. The misogyny inherent in killing women through lack of access to these services is astronomical.
I am proud to live in a country which has free healthcare at the point of service. Where a child with cancer is treated at ANY hospital, regardless of their insurance. Where abortion and birth control are considered human rights. Where prescription medications are available for all and not just those lucky enough to be wealthy.