In this book, Timothy Faust surgically cuts through the complicated mess of the American health care system, gives his diagnosis and prescription for a solution: a single payer system. In an acerbically articulate and well-researched argument, he outlines the defects in our current systems, which are many. The ways in which the insurance companies overcharge and deny their customers, the ways in which hospitals and pharmaceutical companies play the system to reap enormous profits at the expense of patients and patient care, and the ways in which even public insurance programs are fallible are all explained in full. And Faust also broadens the definition of health care to include those factors that contribute to one’s health, such as housing, food, poverty, environmental safety, etc. that are often systemically limited by race, gender, class, and ability. HIs answer? The single payer. A single payer system pays for all, regardless of race, gender, class or ability and pays for all needs. In this scenario, primary care is accessible to all, so that health care is accessed early, when disease may be either preventable or caught early enough to be inexpensive or less expensive to treat. It makes sense. And while those who profit from the insurance fraud game and the pharmaceutical industry sham will fight tooth and nail and lobby with every dollar you spend on your medications, it really would bring health care to all and make it the right it should be and not the privilege it has become in our country.
I think this is a timely and crucial reading for us all at this moment in our country, when we are about to embark on the next presidential election, when many of the democratic candidates are supporting a singe payer system. I think it is incumbent upon us all to learn why this might be a good thing for our country and how this actually might be the only equitable way to provide health care. I think we have to move away from seeing health care as a commodity and see it as our obligation as humans to care for one another, to allow for the dignity of others, no matter what their medical (or financial!!) situation is.
That said, I do think the tone of the writing might be a bit too angry. While I agree with all that he’s written here, and I’m probably as angry as he is, I worry that his tone might be too polarizing – a problem that has plagued dialogue in this country on both sides. If we are to speak to each other, we need to temper ourselves just a bit, in order to open up and let others in. There are many solid arguments in this text and I worry that someone might not appreciate them because they’ve been alienated by the outright hostility toward the establishment. Again, I agree with the author in his opinion, but if I didn’t, I might be put off.
I think this is an essential text in this political moment. it’s dense, it’s not a fun read, but it’s our obligation as American citizens to open our minds and our hearts to learning how we might provide health care to everyone in this country.