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International Issues
U S  :  H E A L T H
The Un'healthy' planners
The United States could learn a thing or two from Cuba when it comes to health care for citizens

   TWe took care of your ailment,
but not your Mediclaim!he sole superpower of the world falls flat on its face when it comes to providing basic health amenities to its citizens. It has been contended that although the general healthcare costs in US have climbed to the pinnacle, the insurance cover given to its citizens have declined at an alarming pace. The US Census Bureau in 2006 revealed that of the 300 million Americans, no medical insurance cover existed for almost 47 million of them. This number marks an increase by almost 1.3 million over the previous year’s estimates.

The reason is simple. Most of the American citizens do not earn enough to shell out for the costly premiums of healthcare insurance. In most cases, the premiums for most of the insurance products have worked out to be more than the average annual income for majority of the Americans! Even for the fortunate ones who are insured, things aren’t so bright. Insurance companies, on some or the other pretext, have been denying insurance claims even after charging hefty premiums. The most obvious result of this greed and avarice-driven healthcare system has been the breathtaking profits for American healthcare companies. United Health Group & Well Point, the Fortune 500 companies in 2006, earned whopping profit increase in 2006 by 28% & 157%, respectively, over the previous year.

So while the administration is keeping the nation preoccupied with its theatrics in West Asia, thousands of Americans swarm overseas to benefit from the socialised healthcare system. A study in contrast is that of America’s neighbour – Canada, which remains as one of the prime destinations for the American citizens to avail health care benefits. With its socialised healthcare system, Canada publicly funds healthcare almost upto 75% of its financial needs. Also, since the inception of the Medicare System in 1966, government funding and financial cover for universal health cover has increased substantially. Even for America’s bete noire Cuba, healthcare has been a shining achievement of the country’s long-running socialist regime. Cuba has been more than successful in providing cheap and quality health cover to its 11 million citizens (it’s constitution under Article 50 empowers its citizen to have universal and free healthcare). With about 60 doctors per 10,000 population, Cubans enjoy the highest life expectancy in the whole of Latin America (about 77 years). The United Nation’s erstwhile Secretary General, Kofi Annan, recently complimented Cuban Healthcare System, calling it ‘world’s best public services’.

It would then be worthwhile for the American administration to emulate Cuba or Canada for ameliorating the plight of its hapless citizens.

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