Of all the forms if inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.
- Dr Martin Luther King Jr
The idea that human suffering should be treated as an opportunity to make money should make everyone uncomfortable. Moreover, the fact that people are unable to access healthcare, or are left in crippling debt due to the costs of healthcare, should be a mark of shame for any developed country.
No society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of a lack of means.
- Aneurin Bevan
Proponents of private healthcare will point to quality and speed of service, but omit the fact that it falls outside of the affordability of most working people. Privatised healthcare is essentially class segregation: providing the best healthcare for the rich and leaving the poor to suffer with little to no recourse for diagnosis, treatment and care. A properly funded universal state healthcare system can provide effective, and fair, treatment for all. Any country which can afford to spend trillions on the military can easily afford to provide for the health of all of its citizens.
When a country like Cuba, which has been embargoed and sanctioned for decades and can hardly be considered wealthy, can provide outstanding healthcare for all of its citizens and also regularly send teams of doctors and medical aid to other countries in their times of need, it should be a source of shame for wealthier nations.
Instead, it appears that even countries with world-renowned healthcare systems, such as the UK and its NHS, are hell bent on outsourcing and privatisation. The lure of rich pickings and high profit margins, quite often at the expense of the public purse, seem to trump any sense of humanity or responsibility.
Illness is neither an indulgence for which people have to pay, nor an offence for which they should be penalised, but a misfortune the cost of which should be shared by the community.
- Aneurin Bevan
The cost of medication is another element which cannot be ignored. In private systems, big pharmaceutical companies have the money and the clout to lobby governments to keep their profits high and people's access to vital medicines low. Prescription costs may be creeping up in many countries, but they are as nothing compared to the astronomical costs of drugs in the United States.
Still, it is encouraging how shocked Europeans (including Brits) are when they learn of the costs of a simple procedure or appointment in the US, or indeed of giving birth (the fact that there's an added charge for holding your baby is illustrative of the profit over people nature of privatised health systems). There should be no complacency, however. The UK isn't as far away from being in a similar situation as many might think...
Healthcare is a human right. And like every other human right, even when it is achieved, it needs to constantly be fought for.
It [the NHS] will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.
- Aneurin Bevan