By Claire Bayler
The broken for-profit healthcare system under capitalism is a daily reminder of why I fight for socialism.
Growing up, I never understood how so many other countries could have universal healthcare, either a “single-payer” government insurance system or fully socialized medicine such as the National Health Service (NHS) in the U.K., yet the U.S. was stuck so stubbornly with a for-profit system.
When Barack Obama ran for president in 2009, I thought universal healthcare was around the corner. Now we are in year three of a global pandemic, and despite the overwhelming support for universal healthcare—and the repeatedly proven fact that it will save both lives and money—the US government and corporations are fighting tooth and nail against taking profit out of healthcare.
Over the past several years, I’ve been searching for answers and for help with my declining health. Even though I personally have “quality” healthcare thanks to a union contract, working-class people, especially those with chronic conditions like myself, are forced to pay insane amounts of money to try to manage our health.
Sick people in our society are forced to fight powerful insurance and medical companies who are designed to deny care, not provide it. Their bottom lines determine what doctors I can see, how often I can receive care, and when I get cut off from treatment. More and more specialists are refusing to bill insurance because the companies dictate poor practices, such as capping sick visits at 15 minutes. Yet refusing insurance makes providers even more inaccessible. Even with union-negotiated health insurance, prices are constantly rising and coverage declining.
Patients are frustrated with providers for the price of care, but it is not doctors, nurses, and other practitioners making billions of dollars by holding our health hostage. It is the insurance, hospital, pharmaceutical, and other medical corporations that profit from ridiculously marked-up prices. There is no need, other than greed, to run healthcare in such an inefficient and cruel way.
You can talk with people about the need for universal healthcare almost anywhere in the country. Even in traditional “red states,” there were protests at the start of Trump’s regime when he tried to attack even the limited regulations and protections of “Obamacare.”
But even if we win universal healthcare, our fight for a society that values people’s wellbeing—including people who are sick, disabled, or otherwise unable to be “productive”—doesn’t end there. The attacks on and limitations of the NHS show that capitalism will never stop trying to turn public services into profitable ventures. That is why I joined ISG and fight for socialism, which will give full control over the economy to the majority of people in society. Only then will we be able to provide medical care anytime, anywhere, for everyone who needs it while ensuring the well-being of our healthcare workers.