The Health Care Deficit

Former Philadelphia Steve Lopez crosses the supermarket picket lines in Los Angeles to go shopping with a self-employed fellow named Jim Chavez. Like most of us who are self-employed, Chavez has a lousy, expensive deal for health insurance. This makes him less than sympathetic to the striking grocery workers who are having to pay more for even less of a health-care benefit.

"I'd walk through a lava pit for the deal they've got," said Chavez, who, like a lot of us, can't make heads or tails of the nation's haphazard health care system, with all its maddening inequities and inefficiencies.

But while Chavez isn't celebrating solidarity with the striking workers, the health care system itself — or the lack of such a system — is the target of most of his animosity.

Maybe now is the time, Chavez said, to quit this insanity and convert to universal health care. It can't be worse than what we've got now — 300 million dissatisfied customers nationwide, and counting.

Universal health care? Isn't that what those crazy Canadians have? Sure, our burdensome, multi-layered system keeps millions from access to affordable care, but do we really want to embrace the kind of system that has bankrupted Canada's national treasury?

Oh wait. What does this CBC News report say?

OTTAWA – The federal government's coffers brimmed with a surplus of $7 billion for the last fiscal year, Finance Minister John Manley reported Wednesday. …

The surplus for the 2002-2003 fiscal year, which ended on March 31 was the sixth straight year that Ottawa's books have been in the black. …


(Lopez via Body and Soul, CBC via Buzzflash.)

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  • chris

    As long as there’s money to be made on the current health-care system, it won’t change. Millions will be spent on TV blitzes to scare the public away from national health care. They’ll trot out that old lady (can’t remember the name she was going by) to warn all the other old people that they won’t be able to get the drugs/doctors they want, blah blah blah. Fear works. Ask Bush…he’s betting his (re)election on it.
    The minority who have the money to get the health care they need don’t care about the majority who don’t.
    Just look at your own backstory about Lopez & Chavez. Lopez has no sympathy and crosses the picket line. Americans will never figure out that it really *is* about class warfare.

  • gttim

    Actually, I was watching 60 minutes a few months back, and the talk was on Canada’s healthcare system. Turns out, auto manufacturers would rather build a plant in Canada than the US. In Canada they do not have to give workers health insurance. Saves them a ton of money, even if taxes are higher. You figure most big business would finally say screw the insurance companies, lets help ourselves.

  • derek g

    But if we spend all our money on healthcare, whose going to keep the military contractors in business? You need to get your priorities straight. That’s way too radical to value life over death.