Lack of health insurance a major source of inequities

Percent of people uninsured (Family Core, NHIS 2008)

Percent of people uninsured (Family Core, NHIS 2008)

Yesterday’s headlines screamed that Medicare’s bankruptcy will be sooner than expected. The federal government revised its estimate of Medicare’s insolvency, moving the date up to 2017.  The New York Times opined in an editorial that the Congress must past “the strongest possible reforms to bring down health costs and cover the unconscionable number of Americans — more than 45 million — who remain uninsured.”  Providing health insurance to these tens of millions of uninsured people is a critical step in addressing racial and ethnic health inequities. African Americans and Latinos comprise a disproportionate number of the uninsured, which is a major source of their higher mortality rates compared to whites. Current U.S. health policy is literally killing Blacks and Latinos.

However, I, for one, have little faith that Congress will do anything substantial to solve this problem. Democratic and Republican politicians both seek health care reforms that protect the profits of the insurance and hospital industries. This approach can only mean squeezing working people through higher taxes on wages and health benefits themselves.

I have a proposal: nationalize the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, placing them under a national health system that would provide health care to all Americans. Such a move would go a long way toward eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities.

Thursday, May 14th, 2009 at 11:34