Sunday, August 16, 2009

German National Treasures

This source from yesterday's globetrotting survey of world health policies has the following line in it. It describes the German system of national health insurance:
"...premiums for children are covered by government out of general revenues, on the theory that children are not the human analogue of pets whose health care should be their owners’ (parents’) fiscal responsibility. Instead, children are viewed as national treasures whose health care should be the entire nation’s fiscal responsibility."
So, whereas 0% of German children suffer without healthcare, 11% of US children were uninsured at some point in 2007. I spent a little bit of time last week leaving comments in conservative territory, and I can pretty much ventriloquize what they'd say about the statistic above: forget them, they're illegal fucking beaners (this is really how they talk on their own blogs, although some do use rudimentary code language -- I'll spare you a link to the sites themselves). And although I think the 'fuck beaners' crowd is just a slim little minority in the US today, can the rest of us honestly say as a group that we consider our children to be 'national treasures'? The far right has the advantage of ignorance and race hate -- operating under the assumption that all uninsured children are of other, detested groups (although wrongly -- 7% of white children were uninsured last year), they have deluded themselves into thinking that no child they care about is going without yearly checkups, or worse, without lifesaving care. The rest of us don't really have those illusions to excuse inaction.

But they speak up -- the same tired, racist fears that poor or illegal immigrant children will steal health care from our embattled system -- and we stay silent, and we never remind anyone that there are sick little kids out there, and we never make the argument that it is always a good thing to give health care to any child, and that treating children who are placed into the system under false pretenses is the right thing to do, especially when it allows us to offer care for all American children.

Every stingy measure we pass to exclude certain children from public health care -- tests of citizenship, proof of parental income -- creates paperwork and increases the likelihood that some children won't make it through the process of getting covered. The humanitarian -- hell, the human system -- is that anyone under 4' gets free healthcare that we all pay for. The system would, ideally, be a reverse version of this:

Image thanks to

More on my thoughts on this new co-op compromise tomorrow.

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