Scott Sandersfeld
J.B. Sivanich

J.B. Sivanich (Brent Schwert)

The Declaration of Independence states the inalienable rights of man to be “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” before asserting, “That to secure these [rights], governments are instituted among Men.” However, with 45 million of its citizens (15 percent of the population) living without fundamental healthcare, the American government is failing to deliver on what it set out to do in its inaugural creed.
Due to unnecessary surgeries, bad prescriptions, and other mistakes caused mainly by poor medical coverage for the impoverished, America’s healthcare system is the third largest cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. Besides that, healthcare costs are one of biggest chains keeping the lower class in the cycle of poverty – unpaid medical bills are the number one cause of filing for personal bankruptcy in the United States. And it is not just the homeless – 81 percent of uninsured Americans come from working families. In a recent survey, the high cost of healthcare was the most frequent reply to the question, “What are the main threats to the American dream?”
The lack of healthcare coverage does not only affect individuals – $65 to $130 billion is lost in productivity each year due to lack of insurance. Many American companies have to decide between supplying healthcare for workers while sacrificing global competitiveness with companies from Europe and Asia whose employees are already covered by nationalized health insurance plans, or leaving workers uninsured. Yes, America is the only industrialized country in the world without universal healthcare.
It would take only one percent of our GDP to fund the estimated annual $160 billion necessary to cover everyone in a nationalized healthcare program. Meanwhile, we are approaching the $2 trillion dollar mark in Iraq, and spending $518 billion per year on our military, six times that of our nearest competitor, China.
The reality of the American healthcare crisis, however, is not about statistics and money. It is an ongoing story in which people have to pull teeth out with pliers because they cannot afford going to the dentist and mothers have to decide between filling Grandma’s prescription or putting Junior through college.
The lack of healthcare coverage is a threat to the American dream and our way of life. It is the responsibility of the government, as declared by our forefarthers, to protect the rights of “Life, Liberty and Happiness,” and now more than ever a nationalized healthcare plan is needed to ensure these rights to every citizen.