Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz writes:
A rich country with millions of poor people. A country that prides itself on being the land of opportunity, but in which a child’s prospects are more dependent on the income and education of his or her parents than in other advanced countries. A country that believes in fair play, but in which the richest often pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than those less well off. A country in which children every day pledge allegiance to the flag, asserting that there is “justice for all,” but in which, increasingly, there is only justice for those who can afford it. These are the contradictions that the United States is gradually and painfully struggling to come to terms with as it begins to comprehend the enormity of the inequalities that mark its society.
Read more here.
Unusually blunt words from World Health Organization Director Margaret Chan:
Ebola emerged nearly four decades ago. Why are clinicians still empty-handed, with no vaccines and no cure?
Because Ebola has historically been confined to poor African nations. The R&D incentive is virtually non-existent. A profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay. WHO has been trying to make this issue visible for ages. Now people can see for themselves.
When the availability of health care is guided by corporate profit and state security, poor Africans just don’t count:
Almost a decade ago, scientists from Canada and the United States reported that they had created a vaccine that was 100 percent effective in protecting monkeys against the Ebola virus. The results were published in a respected journal, and health officials called them exciting. The researchers said tests in people might start within two years, and a product could potentially be ready for licensing by 2010 or 2011.
It never happened. The vaccine sat on a shelf. Only now is it undergoing the most basic safety tests in humans — with nearly 5,000 people dead from Ebola and an epidemic raging out of control in West Africa.
Its development stalled in part because Ebola is rare, and until now, outbreaks had infected only a few hundred people at a time. But experts also acknowledge that the absence of follow-up on such a promising candidate reflects a broader failure to produce medicines and vaccines for diseases that afflict poor countries. Most drug companies have resisted spending the enormous sums needed to develop products useful mostly to countries with little ability to pay.
Read more here.
Echoing our recent Econ4 statement, Eduardo Porter explains in the New York Times why our healthcare-for-profit system means that Americans pay too much and get too little:
From the high administrative costs incurred by health insurers to screen out sick patients to the array of expensive treatments prescribed by doctors who earn more money for every treatment they provide, our private health care industry provides perhaps the clearest illustration of how the profit motive can send incentives astray.
By many objective measures, the mostly private American system delivers worse value for money than every other in the developed world. We spend nearly 18 percent of the nation’s economic output on health care and still manage to leave tens of millions of Americans without adequate access to care.
Read his piece here.
Selling health insurance isn’t like selling shoes, as Econ4′s Gerald Friedman explains in this Real News Network interview:
Gerald Friedman on why only a signle-payer system can solve America’s health-care mess. Read it here.