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Healthcare

 

Visiting the doctor when you're sick, safe and effective medicines, treatment for your children - all no brainers. Yet tens of millions of Americans go without good healthcare in the richest country in the world―it’s a disgrace.

A mix of skyrocketing costs and declining coverage in a system led by the for-profit insurance industry is doing us in. Literally.

The figures don't add up. We spend more than $2 trillion on health care every year, topping every other wealthy country yet more than fifty million Americans still have no health coverage, another 29 million are under-insured―an 80% increase since 2003. The USA ranks 50th in the world in terms of life expectancy and 174th for infant mortality. The system is broken.

An astounding 42% of us are skipping doctor visits, foregoing recommended care or not filling prescriptions. Critical cancer screenings have slowed.  Once health-care-of-last-resort, the emergency room is now charging up front for non-urgent care.   

And for all of that regular Americans are paying more and more―tens of thousands a year for coverage only to risk bankruptcy at the wrong illness or being denied treatment due to incomprehensible insurance policies.

The problems with our nation's health are hitting the poorest hardest. In short, poverty is both a cause and a consequence of poor health. When you're poor, it's harder to live healthily. And if you're not able to live healthily, the spiral of poverty can rapidly overwhelm you.

The worse news? The financial crisis caused by Wall Street speculators crashed our economy. Yet, now all our politicians can talk about is slashing budgets―laying off nurses and EMTs; forcing us to pay more out of each paycheck; and closing public clinics.

But there is another option: Wall Street could start paying its fair share.

We could have a system that guarantees every American gets the healthcare they need.  We could ensure preventive healthcare, hospitals that don’t have to charge us to death, and prescription drugs when we need them not just when we can afford them. Nobody ever needs to face bankruptcy from getting sick again. We know it’s possible: every Member of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the President expects just this. Don’t we deserve the same?

Better health means a stronger economy, and we only get there by ensuring everyone is covered. Instead of cuts, we expect investment in the healthcare system we deserve.

The Robin Hood Tax could raise billions very year to help ensure that every American has high quality healthcare.

The Reality

You’ll have read the horror stories. Health care spending out of control. Budget deficits that mean we have to cut local health services, close hospitals, lay off nurses, doctors, and EMTs. But once you start to look seriously at the healthcare system, a very different story appears.

The top 1% of the population accounted for 27% of aggregate health care spending. The highest-spending 5% of the population accounted for more than half of all spending.  This means that despite trillions being spent, it's not helping everyone who needs it, and those who can't afford it don't get it.

Why? Because while trillions is being spent, the public health sector has been starved. And right when we need them most healthcare services are being cut. 

How can this happen? Well, it's a number of things. 

Increases in health care costs and insurance premiums mean that the average family is spending more than ever on health care. And where do these premiums go? Largely into corporations and the financial sector.

If things continue as they are the cost to the average family, with insurance and out of pocket payments will come to 50% of household income by 2018. Current reforms leave workers with out-of-pocket costs of up to $9,800 a year, businesses to pay $19,000 annually per employee and 27 million without insurance in 2016.  This is an unsustainable situation.  

Meanwhile, Wall Street’s recklessness crashed our economy and is leaving millions of us without access to healthcare. When people lost their jobs they lost their insurance. And the costs of healthcare for those who have lost their jobs, homes or seen their wages depressed can be devastating. Medical bills are the source of 62% of personal bankruptcies, and nearly 80% who went broke from health care had insurance. 

The problems with our nation's health are hitting the poorest hardest. In short, poverty is both a cause and a consequence of poor health. When you're poor, it's harder to live healthily. And if you're not able to live healthily, the spiral of poverty can rapidly overwhelm you.

And of course, failing to prevent people from falling into bad health costs all of us so much more in the long run―trillions more in dollars and years in lives. 

Yet there is hope: We could guarantee healthcare for all. For some in our country America offers the best healthcare in the world. Our research, science, and medical fields have transformed healthcare so that millions are alive today who wouldn’t have been fifty years ago.

Isn’t it time to ensure that every American has access to this system? That nobody every worries again about going bankrupt for getting sick? That no parent in this country has to decide between food on the table and taking their child to the doctor?

What Robin Can Do

It's a mess. Healthcare costs are spiralling. Insurance plans, for those who have them are often inadequate, and increasingly expensive, and the system fails to acknowledge these failings. A population that’s sicker and sicker means an economy that’s sicker too. We have to heal America.

It's a scandal that in the wealthiest country in the world we can’t afford to keep people healthy. It’s time to get Robin Hood involved. Urgently. We need a system that guarantees healthcare is available to everyone. We need a much stronger public health system, not budget cuts and the lay offs of health care workers that leave our social safety net in tatters.

A Robin Hood Tax can fund  a new sustainable economy that enables health and guarantees healthcare for all.

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