Does health care for all make us socialists?

Despite the forward momentum toward health care reform, opposition to the idea is still strong.

Recently, I heard a commentator say that if you believe in health care for all, you are a socialist. 

According to the Merriam-Webster Oline dictionary, socialism is defined as:

1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

2 a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

Does providing affordable and accessible health care make us a socialist country? Those who do not believe that health care is something that American citizens should rightfully expect have a tendency to label that concept as un-American and socialist, that it smacks of government control. Those people usually have good insurance and a reasonable expectation of accessible health care.

Not so long ago I was also concerned about government getting overly involved in health care, but that was before I found myself in a front row seat of a runaway train. I thought there were more safeguards. I didn’t know how hard that train could hit. 

Five years ago, my education came hard and fast. A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and a job loss forced me out of group insurance. After exhausting the COBRA period, something many folks simply cannot afford to do, I braved the individual insurance market. 

There are tons of articles on how to shop for individual insurance and save, but if you have a pre-existing condition, be prepared for outright rejection, outrageous premiums, and co-pays and deductibles that will make your eyes pop. And if you happen to need a “tier 4″ medication, you’d better make sure your seat belt is fastened. It’s going to be a very bumpy ride. 

You may find yourself with only one policy offered — take it or leave it. Imagine a world in which you shell out more for your health care each month than for your mortgage, yet you fear actually using it. 

Millions of Americans are un-insured, and millions more are under-insured. Hard workers and taxpayers, they are in this position through no fault of their own. How can we turn our backs on this? And if we can turn our backs, we must then understand that we, too, are susceptible to the same fate. The “it won’t happen to me” theory doesn’t serve us well.

If our government can step in and make adjustments that provide affordable and accessible health care for all, I’m in favor. Call it socialism or label it un-American if you must. But to punish people for losing group insurance, or to sentence the sick to that speeding locomotive, is as un-American as it gets.


Aod D.
Amberlee B.7 years ago

I am really surprised that no one gets it! By giving this over to the government who do you think is actually footing the extra costs of this "universal" healthcare system? Those of us who can't even pay for the insurance we already have. If we didn't have to pay into the system twice to begin with we could afford to pay for our health basics. We pay taxes and we have to pay into the insurance from our paychecks, whether we want to or not! $400/month that I could put into a savings account for if and when something big actually happens. I can count on one hand the number of times our kids have been sick and needed a doctor. It has cost us out of pocket maybe $300 each time lets say.....So over the last 10 years we have paid $400/mo which is $4800/year so a total of 48,000 the insurance company has gotten just from us and we have used less than $1500 for medical stuff. However because we are forced to have insurance we have lost $46,500 that we could have put into savings and would multiple over the years into something we could use to cover those medical expenses. Even if we used $100/month for our chiropractor (which we have to work out prices with because insurance doesn't cover it) that is still $300/month we can put into savings. But now the govt will find ways to tax us further into losing our home, car and eventually the ability to work so that all of us can enjoy high insurance rates and the govt deciding who lives and who dies.

Aod D.
Amberlee B.7 years ago

I wonder how many of the British people have had something serious happen to them and still feel they have "good" health care? I know of 2 women (friends), one found a lump and one went for her first mamogram. it too 6 months to get a mammogram for the one who found a lump. By that time the lump had spread and gotten into the bone and they could "do nothing for her". She was 41 when she died not long after. If she could have gotten in to the doctor or had the mammogram done right away she would still be alive. The second lady was told she had a form of breast cancer they wouldn't cover and she was basically sentenced to die by your wonderful healthcare when here in the states she could have gotten the help she needed to continue her life. She was a whopping 42.

If socialized medicine is so wonderful for Britian, why does Prince Charles come to The Cleveland Clinic on a regular basis to get check ups or work done?

Instead of pushing insurance companies out and going back to a system where you can negotiate your bills with the doctor him/herself, instead of dealing with the myriad of unsubstantiated lawsuits and malpractice claims that cause prices to go up, instead of assuming that all doctors are super rich and don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars in college loans to repay we have to go and turn our health care over to a government that can't even stay within it's own budget!

Pam Rhia S.
.7 years ago

This DOES NOT make us a "Socialist Country"! What is does do is give those unable to afford health care or health care insurance a chance to get insurance, be treated equal, not knocked down by high co-pays, level 4 tiers of medications, and not penalized for pre-existing conditions. To me, it levels the playing field to the point no one can overcharge immensely high rates for policies, then punish those of us with pre-existing conditions, making the money we put out on a policy not worth it. I also think it will make hospital, doctor and clinic bills more reasonable. It will also give those who are way too poor to afford a primary doctor, thus keeping those that cannot afford insurance out of the ER rooms, which bloat the costs and they cannot pay them anyway, so it is a viscous cycle, no insurance, go to the ER, can't pay, so those costs get passed onto the ones with insurance or can pay. We should see a much lower rate of those going to the ER that have no choice since no doctor will see them without insurance. I think it is a great start. It needs more work over the course of the next years to come, but at least it is a foot in the right direction.

Pawan A.
Pawan A.7 years ago

Ann p., if we think that health is a right of a citizen,then we should realize that the responsibility of the health of the people comes on the government of that country.Because of inequality in the ecomomical status, all the people may not be able pay for thir health insurence and for those the insurence may not be effective.

Jaime J.
Jaime J.7 years ago

Oh, and to Josee...why would anyone want extra medical insurance in Canada unless there is a failed system. If everyone who walks in the door gets treated the same, what's the extra medical insurance going to do for its purchaser that the others do not get....hmmmm...seems a little fishy!

Jaime J.
Jaime J.7 years ago

First of all, Ann P., thank you for your articles. For the most part you present a less attacking argument than many of your comrades. But to everyone saddens me how so many of you are such anti-capitalists. Capitalism has formed this country, and without it we would not have any of the developments or technology that we do. Although universal health care does appeal to so many is perhaps one of the most dangerous ideas we could adopt. Canada has only been as successful with their program as they are because we haven't adopted their system. Few new medical developments have been made in Canada as there is little motivation. We, the capitalists, are the innovative society. So, it may seem so wonderful on the exterior, but if you look at the people that are affected, the "you're just another number" mentality that the medical system treats their patients with, and the lack of true invention and innovation...universal health care is not the answer!

Josee Bayeur
Josée Bayeur7 years ago

In Canada also you can have extra medical insurance if you want and can afford it. The point is, the people that can't afford it are covered too.

Barbara A.
Barbara A.7 years ago

Please sign to boot these senators who want to keep us from getting what we need!!

Barbara A.
Barbara A.7 years ago

Universal health care is a must!! We need it now! We have a BIG problem because Senator Evan Bayh and several senator have joined together calling themselves CONSERVADEMS and plan to allow the republicans to filibuster the health care legislation as well as water down the climate change legislation. People are literally dying because they do not have the care they need and the time is now to make the change. We know we spend too much dollar for dollar for the health care that is provided so there is a better way. There are countries that do it better. Let's get a clue, pick a plan we like best and get it done! I started a petition as soon as I heard about the conservadems and would love for people to sign it. I will put it at the end of my comments. As I have been reading websites, blogs, and my petitioners who have signed, I have learned a lot more about these conservadems and their possible motives. Not surprisingly Money tops the list. Lots of insurance or pharmaceutical money from donations or board salaries to spouses ($800 K!). Other motives sound more like excuses to me. I think these senators should be in the same boat as the uninsured and the underinsured and know what it is like to worry about a catastrosphic illness ruining their economic life. People in other developed countries don't have these worries and we shouldn't either. Please sign if you agree!

Ann B.
Ann B.7 years ago

I'm not trying to derail this, but I've always thought that for profit healthcare is an oxymoron. You simply cannot put all people on equal footing when some can afford to pay much more. While some of the brightest will work with those who pay less, many will not.

I don't know what the answer is, but it's not what we have now. And, I wonder how it can be a for profit system in any way. Not for profit doesn't have to mean low paying, for what it's worth. Another issue is the insurance companies and what all of that adds to costs.

For anyone interested in exploring this topic in general, there is an excellent piece produced by Dick Gordon on his radio show called The Story. It was about a doctor who completely stopped practicing medicine in a traditional way. He stopped accepting insurance. He was able to lower his rates, see less patients, give each patient more time, and still make as much or more as he did when accepting HMO patients. Oh, and he no longer needed 5 staff per doctor to handle the insurance stuff.