Higher Status Leads to a Longer Life – Health System Example

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"Higher Status Leads to a Longer Life" is a useful example of a paper on the health system.   That the inadequate healthcare system needs a significant and immediate overhaul is undeniable.   Health care professionals understand the problems associated with the failing system more so than anyone and are the first to voice their concerns.   The ‘ public option’ now hotly debated nationally is actually a compromise for what most Democrats actually favour, a ‘ single-payer’ system, otherwise referred to as universal health care, a more efficient system that covers everyone, essentially emulating a similar approach employed by Britain, Canada, Cuba, Brazil, Russia, Japan, western European countries and many other nations.   At present, there are many problems with the health insurance system in the US.

Therefore, many people think that the US government ought to reform the health insurance system. How the US Compares with Other Countries Many times we hear the phrase, ‘ America is number one! ’ but of course this applies to economic and military prowess only and certainly does not include other areas, the quality and affordability of health care in particular.   “ The United States, which has the most expensive health system in the world, underperforms consistently relative to other countries and differs most notably in the fact that Americans have no universal health insurance coverage” (Presse, 2007).   The U. S.

is unquestionably not number one with regards to health care delivery.   The infant mortality rate in America ranks 23rd worldwide, 20th in life expectancy and trails Botswana, coming in at 67th with regard to child immunizations and this is just a partial list.   Overall, the U. S. and the very poor third-world country of Cuba are neck-and-neck in providing health care to its citizens.   “ The United States ranks poorly relative to other industrialized nations in health care despite having the best-trained health care providers and the best medical infrastructure of any industrialized nation”   (Battista, McCabe, 1999). Countries Have Adopted the National Health Insurance The vastly contrasting societies of the U. S., Cuba and Japan were compared by the study to illustrate this finding.   The gross domestic product (GDP) was balanced against the average life span in each country which proved higher incomes did not necessarily equate to healthier citizens.   The GDP (per person) in the U. S.

is $34,000 while the life-span averages about 77 years.   Cuba’ s GDP is $5200 but the life expectancy is the same.   The Japanese GDP is $25,000 and the life expectancy, the highest in the world, is better than 81 years (Bhattacharya, 2004).   Social status, which is not automatically dependent upon financial status, determines the level of happiness and self-worth which translates into improved health outcomes.   “ Hierarchies are inevitable but how hierarchies are translated to differences in health is the crucial question.   Social arrangements, education and social cohesion may be crucial factors” (Marmot, 1991).   Japanese society puts much emphasis on social arrangements and education and is universally acknowledged as cohesive when compared to all others.   This cohesiveness is possible because, in this society, there exists less of a perceived gap in the social hierarchy.   It models an ‘ all for one and one for all’ type of mentality.   The conflict theory is not applicable in Japan to the same degree as other countries.   The working class doesn’ t experience similar internal or external psychological pressures to rise to a higher social class nor is ashamed and frustrated by their current social location to the same degree of those in other societies.

The people of Japan put greater importance on caring for the elderly, the crime rate is lower and industrial productivity is higher than the U. S.  There is much less of a chasm between the ‘ haves’ and the ‘ have nots’ than in the U. S. and they enjoy a longer and healthier life. Perceived Disadvantage Opponents also claim universal health care would be prohibitively costly.   The facts do not bear-out this fear, however.   The U. S.

spends more money, per capita, than all other nations that provide universal coverage, a startling 40 per cent more than any of these countries.   According to studies by both the Federal Budget and General Accounting Office, the U. S. would save between $100 and $200 billion every year if universal health care was implemented.   Canada went to the single-payer system in 1971.  The vast majority of its citizens would not choose to revert back to the old, U.S. -style system nor would the government which has saved significant amounts of money through the economy is weak as compared to the U. S.  Much of the savings is in bureaucratic expenses.   “ Single-payer universal health care costs would be lower than the current U. S.

system due to lower administrative costs.   The United States spends 50 to 100 per cent more on administration than single-payer systems. By lowering these administrative costs the United States would have the ability to provide universal health care, without managed care, increase benefits and still save money”   (Battista, McCabe, 1999). There are no known advantages to the current US health care delivery system. Opposition to Health Care Reform Those opposed to universal health care such as insurance and pharmaceutical companies along with Republicans have characterized this system as ‘ socialized medicine. ’ This moniker elicits fears of communist ideals, the ‘ red menace’ creeping into American society.   Universal health care, however, cannot be accurately described as socialized medicine.   If the single-payer system can be categorized as socialism then other worthwhile endeavours such as the military can be as well.   Few, if any, are opposed to socialized police, fire and ambulance services or would want to privatize the public school system.   Americans of all political leanings are willing to finance these important services yet some, those influenced by the fear-mongering of insurance and pharmaceutical lobbying efforts, would deny health care delivered by the same method.   Meeting the health needs of people is as or more important than the other services currently supplied in a socialistic means.   (“ Universal” 2005).   Those in favour of Health Care Reform Americans of all political ideologies agree too many individuals and families are uninsured or underinsured and that health care costs are higher than necessary but Republican and Democratic lawmakers disagree on the solution.

The recent cloture vote along strict party lines in the US Senate clearly illustrated that the Democratic solution is to do something as opposed to the Republican solution which is to do what they did during the Bush administration, nothing. Conclusion Currently, the U. S. is the only industrialized, ‘ civilized’ country that allows its citizens to be refused health care due to their inability to pay.   This embarrassing circumstance would be eliminated by implementing universal health care and the government would save hundreds of billions every year.   Other than insurance and pharmaceutical companies, all would benefit.   Individuals would profit both financially and medically and government on the state and federal level could divert the monies spent now on the broken health care system to social programs that would further benefit society as a whole.   Patients would not be forced to choose from a list of doctors unlike the current system and would not have to rely on a bean-counting to decide to what extent or if their condition will be covered by insurance.   Americans are needlessly suffering and dying while vast amounts of money are being wasted, all for no reason other than the stubbornness of the leaders of the country to address the problem.   It’ s not because universal health care does not make sense economically or politically.   The insurance and pharmaceutical industries are large contributors to politicians and have the funds to bombard the media with self-serving propaganda designed to scare people into continuing the current failed system.   Americans should be appalled and ashamed at the system and themselves for being so blindly manipulated.


Battista, John R., M.D. McCabe, Justine, Ph.D. “Talk Given To The Association of State Green Parties” (June 4, 1999). November 27, 2009

Bhattacharya, Shaoni “Higher status leads to a longer life.” New Scientist. (June 8, 2004). November 27, 2009

Marmot MG, Shipley MJ, Rose G. “Inequalities in death—specific explanations of a general pattern?” Lancet. Vol. 1, (1984):1003-6. [PMID: 6143919].

Presse, Agence France. “U.S. Health System Ranks Last Compared to Other Countries” (May 15, 2007). November 27, 2009

“Universal Health Care” QuickOverview.com. (2005). November 27, 2009

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