DEFINITION & BACKGROUND, also GERMANY:
First, on the topic, the definition, etc., at Wikipedia. From that page:
"Universal health care, or universal healthcare, is health care coverage which is extended to all citizens, and sometimes permanent residents, of a governmental region. Universal health care programs vary widely in their structure and funding mechanisms, particularly the degree to which they are publicly funded. Typically, most health care costs are met by the population via compulsory health insurance or taxation, or a combination of both."
And, a little later, on the same page:
"Germany has the world's oldest universal health care system, with origins dating back to Otto von Bismarck's Health Insurance Act of 1883. As mandatory health insurance, it originally applied only to low-income workers and certain government employees, but has gradually expanded to cover virtually the entire population."
Read the rest at the Wikipedia page.
So, Germany, a wealthy democracy just like us or U.S. has universal health care. That means we could probably get it done here too.
SICK AROUND THE WORLD
Oooh, here's where I can tie in the topic of universal health care & the moving image; PBS's show Sick Around the World. From the New York Times review of the show:
"This fast-moving and entertaining hour starts from the premise that the American health care system, with its high costs, multiple gatekeepers and failure to provide insurance for much of the population, is a failure. And Mr. Reid makes the case (in about 10 minutes per country) that other capitalist democracies have not just cheaper and more equally available health care, but also better care over all, with longer life expectancies and lower infant mortality rates. The clinics and hospitals he visits may not be as spacious and well buffed as those in American suburbs, but surveys of these countries’ citizens — the actual consumers of care — show rates of satisfaction that should make American providers blush."
Read the rest of the NYT review here.
On the Sick show site there is a page called Five Capitalist Democracies & How They Do It. Page talks about how the UK, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, & Switzerland provide health care for all of their people. Check it out. If those 5 countries can do it (none are as wealthy as the US), we can surely get it done here.
You can watch the entire show on line, go here & do it now; get yer self edumacated (If you dig the show, donate some $s to PBS, 'cause not many TV networks do such useful shows - show yer thanks)
WHAT OBAMA AND CLINTON PROMISE
In other wealthy democracies with universal health care, their federal governments have played a key role in bringing the service to existence and making it available. Both Senator Clinton & Senator Obama are promising to work to create a universal health care system in the US, if & when they get elected President. Check out their plans through links below:
Senator Obama's Health Care Plan
Senator Clinton's Health Care Plan
Both candidates have similar plans (note: i am not an expert on their plans, read them in detail to figure out who has the better plan), however, as far as I know at the moment, a key difference is that Senator Clinton would force all adults to purchase health insurance thorough the enforcement of a penalty fee (as far as I understand) & Senator Obama would make purchasing of health insurance mandatory only for parents with underage children, & his plan includes lowering the prices so that health care would be universally affordable. I do not want to get into a long debate about whose plan is better at this point, however, the important thing at the moment is that both Democrats are interested in making universal health care happen in the US.
On the Republican side, I have not heard Senator McCain talk about wanting to bring universal health care to the US, see his health care plan here.
MASSACHUSETTS HEALTH CARE REFORM
The state of Massachusetts seems to be leading the way in the US in creating universal health care. From the Wikipedia page Massachusetts health care reform:
"Massachusetts health care reform law was enacted in 2006, and requires nearly every resident of Massachusetts to obtain or purchase health insurance coverage. Through the law, Massachusetts provides nearly free health care for residents earning less than the federal poverty line, and subsidized access to health care for those earning up to three times the poverty threshold. As of the end of 2007, the law is credited with covering an additional 300,000 Massachusetts residents."
Read the rest of that page here.
Check out the Commonwealth Connector to find out more info. about how Massachusetts does universal health care.
I guess you can contact your representatives in government to encourage them to work on creating universal health care.
Is there a private (commercial or non-profit, non-governmental) alternative to government created universal health care? I wonder. Probably not. If anyone has read any interesting info. re: that topic, leave a comment w/ a link so that I can check it out.