Alec Smith is famous. He was neither an athlete nor an actor. He didn’t invent something useful or decode an ancient language. Maybe he played an instrument, but we don’t know about any of that. As far as we know, he was an average guy living in the Midwest.
Alec Smith is famous because, at 26 years old, he died of ketoacidosis. Like many Americans, he was unable to afford his insulin at $1300 a month. He began rationing it, and then there was nothing to ration.
Death by Ketoacidosis
Ketoacidosis is a complication of diabetes. It happens when the body is unable to produce enough insulin. Without insulin, the cells of the body are unable to receive sugar.
Sugar is a major source of energy for muscles and other tissue. Insulin is the key to helping the body absorb sugar. Without enough insulin, the body begins to break down fat as fuel. This causes a build up of acids in the bloodstream called ketones. The buildup can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis.
The symptoms of ketoacidosis come quickly, sometimes within 24 hours. Unless treated quickly, it’s a fatal condition that leads to a slow, painful death. People may live for up to a week suffering from the condition.
You’re a young adult living alone, and you lost your health insurance because you just celebrated your 26th birthday. The insurance options are too expensive for you to afford on your current pay. It’s three days till pay day, and you can’t afford to buy insulin.
At first, you’re just thirsty and urinate often. Then, you experience stomach pains and vomit whatever you eat. You grow weaker and, slowly, you grow confused. You’re short of breath, and you swing between being to hot and too cold.
You black out, yet remain coherent. You’re unable to talk, and time seems to slow down. You smell like death, and you feel even worse. You stumble around looking for insulin; you know that it can save your life. You grow weaker, until you’re unable to help yourself. At some point, your organs will begin to fail.
Affordable Care Act
There are many people like Alec, whose access to healthcare is limited or nonexistent. A universal healthcare system would save lives, yet America treats healthcare like a luxury.
The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was a healthcare system overhaul by the Obama administration. It prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, it outlined basic care that all health insurance must provide without extra costs. It offered subsidies for more low- income families and expanded Medicaid eligibility. It allowed people to remain on their parents insurance until the age of 26. However, it also penalized people for having no insurance
Under Obamacare, millions remained without insurance or paid more for less coverage. Fewer choices, higher premiums, and rising taxes brought it under heavy criticism. Republicans began dismantling it after Trump came into office.
Under the Trump administration, the tax penalty for the uninsured was removed and states were permitted to add a work requirement for medicaid. He ceased cost-sharing subsidies and made gutted insurance policies permanent.
Under the Obama administration, these insurance policies were short-term and offered less coverage to consumers for a max of three months. When Trump came into office, these policies became long-term.
Single Payer Healthcare
No matter your political leanings, everyone agrees that Americans need healthcare. Yet, bureaucrats lobby for capitalist interest, ignoring the working class that suffer with treatable medical issues. Healthcare is a basic human right, and it’s time that we treat it as such.
The single-payer system is a universal healthcare system that is a publicly funded, social service. The government, whether federal or state, offers a comprehensive coverage healthcare insurance plan based on people’s needs rather than their ability to pay.
In a single-payer system, there would be no out-of-pocket payments for office visits, prescriptions, or treatments. A single set of policies would govern services offered, reimbursement rates, and standard of care. The cost of medical equipment, prescriptions, and other health related items would be government controlled.
There would be no denials due to pre-existing conditions, no deductibles, and no premiums.
All citizens and legal residents would have access to quality healthcare regardless of their socioeconomic status. The delivery of medical care would be private, leaving people their free choice of hospitals and doctors.
Any medical decisions would be between the patient and the provider.
Expanding the Medicare system
Implementing a single-payer system would be simple. It would expand the current medicare system and eliminate private insurance. Businesses would no longer be forced to purchase insurance for employees.
Healthcare would no longer be rationed, and there would be no bureaucrat to argue whether your need for treatment is necessary. It would not disturb current patient care, as most providers participate in the medicare system.
We’re already paying higher taxes.
Opposition to the single-payer system argues that it would raise taxes. However, higher taxes are draining the working class as is, and we don’t have healthcare to show for it. More importantly, taxes will continue to rise every two years.
The tax increase was built into the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. When it was passed, taxes were lowered for most Americans. The stepped tax increase would not take effect until 2021 and, by 2027, would affect everyone except the top earners. Republicans banked on the American public forgetting who passed that tax increase into law.
President Biden’s tax proposal would correct the inequalities created by the Trump administration. How much will it help the American people, though? If we allow corporations to continue lobbying against the working class, America will never see significant change.
The working class will continue to pay for the lavish lifestyle of the elite.
We’re already paying for uninsured Americans.
Between 2011-2013, Americans paid 62.8 billion per year for uninsured patients. That number dropped to 42.4 billion per year between 2015-2017 with the
implementation of Obamacare. The pandemic saw a rise of insured Americans, but many still remain without insurance.
Unfortunately, having health insurance won’t guarantee access to affordable healthcare. In a survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, researchers found that 43% of working-age adults were inadequately insured in 2022. For people that were insured through their employer, it was found that 29% of them were under-insured.
Of their respondents, 46% had skipped or delayed medical care due to the cost, and 42% had problems paying or were paying off medical bills. An unfortunate 49% of respondents were unable to afford their medical bills.
Where does that cost go?
Healthcare is a Right
America treats healthcare like a luxury; if you can afford it, that’s awesome, but it’s not for everyone. Instead of commoditizing healthcare, we need to acknowledge it for what it is:
Demanding access to quality, affordable healthcare has been treated like the intolerable greed of the capitalist class that lives, in essence, in a state of socialism as they benefit wholly from the labor that makes all of their wealth. What the ruling class get freely in their decadent indulgences, millions of impoverished and marginalized members of the proletariat must somehow survive without. The death toll of our class rises and the pockets of the Bourgeoisie grow ever deeper!
Do your own research. Verify what has been said here, and dig deeper into the corruption of the capitalist elite. The following is a list of resources used to write this article.
- The State of U.S. Health Insurance in 2022
- Spending on Health Care for Uninsured Americans: How Much, and Who Pays?
- There’s a silent epidemic killing over 100,000 Americans a year, and the government is allowing the cure to get more and more expensive
- WHAT IS SINGLE PAYER HEALTH CARE?
- Single-payer healthcare
- New HHS Report Shows National Uninsured Rate Reached All-Time Low in 2022
- How Much Medicaid and Medicare Cost Americans
- THE COSTS AND CONSEQUENCES OF BEING UNINSURED
- Key Facts about the Uninsured Population
- Sources of Payment for Uncompensated Care for the Uninsured
- Why Are Americans Paying More for Healthcare?
- How a Minnesota man who died from soaring insulin prices could change US diabetes care forever
- The Scary Experience Of Diabetic Ketoacidosis
- Insulin’s High Cost Leads To Lethal Rationing
- ObamaCare: 10 years of distress and disappointment
- The Affordable Care Act Conundrum: Facing Reality in America’s Giant Social Experiment
- What Changes Have Been Made to the ACA Under the Trump Administration?
Written by Judia Krakowski for NEPA DSA