Imagine waking up to the headline “Atlanta Destroyed by Nuclear Bomb” and learning that 498,715 of the city’s residents have died. The shock to our society would be unimaginable. And yet, we’ve just learned that the American health care system has killed more people than this in the last two years alone, and hardly anyone has noticed. The fact that we have also wasted more than a trillion dollars is hardly worth an afterthought.
The authors conclude that even without the pandemic, we would be facing 77,675 unnecessary deaths and $438 billion in extra spending every year because we refused to adopt the single payer system.
The figures are laid out in new report from the National Academy of Sciences. The purpose of the report is to calculate how many lives we could have saved and how much less money we would have spent if there was a single payer health care system before the COVID-19 pandemic. His conclusion? Between January 2020 and March 2022, more than 338,000 lives would be saved and the country would save more than $105 billion in hospital costs.
But that’s only part of the story. The authors conclude that even without the pandemic, we would be facing 77,675 unnecessary deaths and $438 billion in extra spending every year because we refused to adopt the single payer system. If we multiply these figures by 2.25 (January 2020-March 2022) and add them to the Covid losses, this will show us how much our privatized system has cost us since the start of the pandemic: 513,363 unnecessary deaths and 1,007,400 000 dollars of wasted money. (Plus even more from the end of March.)
For a country that claims to hate financial irresponsibility, this is certainly a big waste of money. And for a country that claims to value life, that is certainly a lot of unnecessary death.
No, wait. “Useless death” is too mild a term for what we do. I have used the term “negligence” to describe similar deaths in the past, but that too is too mild. “Human Sacrifice” is better.
513,363. This is more than the population of Atlanta. Or Minneapolis, Minnesota. Or Miami, Florida. Or Kansas City, Missouri. Or Omaha, Nebraska. Bakersfield, Tampa, Tulsa. New Orleans, Cleveland, Honolulu, Cincinnati…
I could go on, but you get the idea.
The million plus lives we lost during the pandemic should have convinced us that a matter of life and death in healthcare is… well, a matter of life and death. It also should have dissuaded us from “moderately” forgoing single payer care and sticking to the current lethal system instead.
It’s not “moderate”. It’s deadly.
For politicians supporting the current system, don’t worry. I’m sure we can figure out how to keep its most distinctive features once we move to a single-payer healthcare system. For example, we could atomic bomb another American city once a year and simultaneously send half a billion dollars to United Health, Aetna, Anthem and Cigna. This will preserve the main results of the system that you are so eager to adopt.
However, this leaves a thorny issue. How big should our target cities be? The size of the cities listed above reflects losses during the pandemic. Will the homicide rate go down when the pandemic passes?
The answer to this question depends on whether the pandemic will ever pass and whether more catastrophes will follow. The way we handle it, it’s entirely possible that we’ll end up in pandemic territory forever. But justice is justice. Let’s take a more conservative number and aim for smaller cities.
In non-pandemic years, the U.S. health care death rate is roughly 75-80,000, so we could plan on targeting cities around that size until the next option comes along. The president’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, qualifies. As is my hometown of Utica, New York. We all have to share the sacrifice, so it seems fair.
What other cities are suitable? Wilmington, Delaware? Check. Duluth, Minnesota? You got up. Flint, Michigan? Oh wait, we’ve already sacrificed you. Youngstown, Ohio… Camden, New Jersey… Gary, Indiana… We’ve already abandoned many of these cities economically, so the big corporations are unlikely to miss them. For the people who run this economy, people are already a surplus human stock.
Or here’s another thought: we could stop killing our own population en masse. We could adopt a single-payer healthcare system and dedicate ourselves to saving lives and resources rather than profiting Wall Street investors and wealthy executives.
Some people will call this idea radical, but it seems rather moderate to me.