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Translated & Reprinted from...
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  New York, NY
April 24, 2007

One Health Insurance, for All, for Life

By JAIME TORRES, DPM

 

All over this country the crisis in our healthcare system is a burning issue, and people are demanding that politicians resolve it. There are 47 million people without health insurance -- 14 million are Hispanic -- and more than 50 million have inadequate coverage. The Institute of Medicine reported that each year 18,000 people die because of the lack of medical coverage.

When it comes to healthcare, the United States spends more per person than any other industrialized country (almost double than Canada and France ). Yet, we have the highest infant mortality and almost the lowest life expectancy in the developed world. It's very clear there is a lot of suffering, and the proposals of recent years "to improve" our system have had little success.

In my years as a doctor, I have seen a man lose a leg because he couldn't pay for antibiotics to treat a foot ulcer; I have fought insurance companies because they denied payment for necessary procedures, and I have seen children receive inadequate care because they had Medicaid—insurance which many see as second class. It's incredible that in the richest country in the world there is such injustice and pain.

But in the rest of the industrialized countries healthcare is provided to everyone. The only reason we don't have universal health coverage is the unbelievable inefficiency of our system. Even though the United States spends two trillion dollars on health costs, $600 billion never reaches the people of this nation, instead this money is used for administrative expenses and to pay shareholders and millionaire executives who have never changed a bandage in their lives.

It is very clear that the system needs radical surgery. Eli Siegel, the great philosopher and founder of the education Aesthetic Realism, showed its central failing when he explained that a healthcare system based on profit is unethical because it is based on “contempt for people.” He explained that as soon as one is looking to make profits, one cannot be very interested in what other persons deserve, what they feel, because that would limit one's ability to make money from them.

Our system shouldn't depend on some people making profit from the misfortunes of other human beings. For any insurer, hospital or doctor to see patients in terms of how much money can be made from them is sheer contempt, and it is completely opposed to hoping a person be stronger and healthier.

The truth is that we can provide health insurance for everyone in the United States if we expand the Medicare program to all the people living in this country, regardless of their health or immigration status. Medicare is the federal not-for-profit insurance which has efficiently covered our senior citizens with quality care.

This can be achieved by a tax that would cost less than what most employees or employers are currently paying for insurance. In one single step, it would provide coverage for the uninsured, it would lower administrative costs significantly and would improve our efforts at prevention.

We should educate ourselves to demand that Medicare be expanded as our national health insurance program where everyone would be covered, and its only purpose would be to improve our health—and not make profits.

[English translation]


Dr. Jaime Torres is founder of the Latinos for National Health Insurance and is an associate of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation in New York .


Reprinted from...
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MARTES 24 de Abril de 2007

Un seguro médico, para todos,
de por vida


Jaime Torres

En toda la nación el tema de la crisis en nuestro sistema de salud está candente y la gente está demando a los políticos que la resuelvan. Hay 47 millones de personas sin cobertura médica —14 millones son hispanos—y más de 50 millones con seguros inadecuados. El Instituto de Medicina reportó que cada año 18,000 personas mueren por falta de cobertura médica. 

En salud, los EE.UU. gastan por persona más que cualquier otro país avanzado (casi el doble de Canadá y Francia). Aun así, tenemos la más alta mortalidad infantil y casi la más baja expectativa de vida del mundo desarrollado. Es muy claro que hay mucho sufrimiento y que las propuestas para “mejorarlo” en recientes años han tenido poco resultado.

En mis años como doctor he visto a un hombre perder una pierna porque no pudo pagar por antibióticos para curar una úlcera en un pie; he peleado con aseguradoras por denegar procedimientos necesarios, y he visto niños recibir cuidado deficiente porque tenían Medicaid—un seguro que muchos ven de segunda clase. Es increíble que en el país más rico del mundo haya tanta injusticia y dolor.

Pero los demás países desarrollados brindan atención de salud a todos. La única razón que no tenemos cobertura universal es la espectacular ineficiencia de nuestro sistema. Aunque los EE.UU. gastan $2 trillones en gastos de salud, $600 billones nunca llegan a la gente, pero se usan en gastos administrativos, y para pagar a accionistas y ejecutivos millonarios que nunca han cambiado un vendaje en sus vidas.

Es muy claro que el sistema necesita una cirugía radical. Eli Siegel, el gran filósofo y fundador de la educación Realismo Estético, demostró su falla central cuando explicó que un sistema de salud basado en lucro es inmoral porque está “basado en desprecio por la gente”. El explicó que tan pronto uno está en busca de lucrarse, uno no puede estar muy interesado en lo que otras personas se merecen, lo que sienten, ya que eso restringiría nuestra habilidad de ganar dinero de ellos.

Nuestro sistema no debe depender en que algunos se lucren de las desdichas de otros seres humanos. Cuando aseguradoras, hospitales o médicos ven a pacientes en término de cuánto dinero se puede hacer de ellos es puro desprecio, y es completamente opuesto a desear que se fortalezcan y que sean más saludables

Lo cierto es que podemos dar cobertura a todos en los EE.UU. si expandimos el plan federal Medicare a todas las personas que residan en el país, sin importar su estado migratorio, o su estado de salud. El Medicare es la aseguradora federal sin fines de lucro que ha cubierto eficientemente, y con cuidado de calidad, a nuestras personas mayores.

Esto se lograría pagado con un impuesto que representaría menos de lo que la mayoría de los empleados o de sus empleadores pagan hoy en seguros. Así, en un solo paso, se daría cobertura a los no asegurados, se bajarían significativamente los costos administrativos y se avanzaría en la prevención.

Es por eso que debemos educarnos y demandar que el Medicare sea expandado como el seguro médico nacional, donde todos estemos cubiertos, y cuyo único propósito sea mejorar nuestra salud y no obtener ganancias.


DR. JAIME R. TORRES es fundador de Latinos por un Seguro Médico Nacional y un Asociado en la Fundación Realismo Estético en NY.
 

 

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Resources

 
   Jaime Torres writes:
 

"All over this country the crisis in our healthcare system is a burning issue,... Eli Siegel, the great philosopher and founder of the education Aesthetic Realism, showed its central failing when he explained that a healthcare system based on profit is unethical because it is based on “contempt for people.” He explained that as soon as one is looking to make profits, one cannot be very interested in what other persons deserve, what they feel, because that would limit one's ability to make money from them."

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