By Team Shafu
Over the past eight years, and especially over the past month, many have asked me, “What did Obama do during his tenure apart from the Health Law?” Many commentators have already answered this question, as they better describe the achievements of the outgoing president.
I would like to focus on the three words, “except for the Health Law,” which we skipped lightly.
The Patience Protection and Affordable Care Act, or its popular name, Obamacare, is the most important law enacted in the United States since the Great Society of Great Britain, Lyndon Johnson in 1964-1965, there was no law that dealt with so much money and so dramatically changed the lives of US citizens.
In addition, health reform was a “white whale” in American politics. Many presidents have tried to advance: Republicans like Richard Nixon (yes, you read right) and Gerald Ford, and Democrats like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. They all failed. Others like Ronald Reagan and the Bosses made do with only specific changes.
Obama has caught one of the most powerful bulls in American politics and has been able to. It has changed the lives of millions, while re-creating systems that do not look the same in health care.
Those who do not really understand what the health care system looked like before the reform, what was done within it, and how the public debate on the subject will look, will never understand the American politics of the last few years.
In most Western countries, the government makes sure to provide its citizens access to a variety of medical services that are considered essential when it finances this approach with taxpayers’ money. A common model for this task is called a single payer. Within this framework, the State provides most of the services itself, with the assistance of private entities and participation in costs. Israel is an example of a country that operates according to this model.
In the United States, the situation is different: the state provides medical insurance for only two main groups: the elderly, under a program known as MEDICARE, and the poor, under a program known as MEDICAID.
In 2010, just before the reform, 15% of Americans were insured by MEDICARE and MEDICAID. The rest of the insureds were as follows: 60% obtained insurance through their employer or their spouse or their parents, and 9% purchased policies independently. About 16 percent of Americans – about 50 million Americans – had no health insurance.
So who are the ones lacking medical insurance? Some are people who work part-time jobs and do not receive a policy from their employer. Most of them have low earning capacity, but not low enough to qualify for MEDICAID insurance. Some are young people who feel healthy and assume that they will manage without insurance.
Many of them are sick, or have been sick in the past. In professional jargon they are called “pre-existing conditions”. The insurance companies do not want to touch them because of the high cost of the health services they consume, and therefore offer them policies that are not affordable or that do not offer them any policies at all.
These are the real “transparent ones” of the US One of them, who died while struggling with cancer without medical insurance, was one named Ann Durham Satoro, the mother of one named Barack Obama.
But why lie in tragedies? We are talking about the capital of capitalism. It is true that there are unlucky people, but at least the American taxpayer takes fewer people on his back and pays less for public health.
So that’s it, no.
Public health expenditure in the US is among the highest in the world: 8% of the US GDP is invested in health, while in Israel the government invests only 5% of the GDP and insures the entire population. Germany, Britain, Australia and Canada also insure all citizens and spend a low percentage of GDP on health from the United States.
Does it make sense and how can it be? To illustrate the reason, I will share a personal experience with you.
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