Health care is a public good

March 13, 2012

Rutland Herald

I would like to respond to the piece, “Keeping us Dependent,” in the March 6 edition of the Rutland Herald. In this letter, the author, Ms. Jean Spaulding, writes that “Single-payer health insurance does not sound American to me.” If single-payer is not American, does this disqualify the millions of elderly people on Medicare or our military veterans with the Veterans Affairs from being American? Both Medicare and the Veterans Affairs are pure single-payer systems.

Single-payer health care is not about the government “keeping us like babies — dependent on the government,” as the author states. If the government is keeping us like babies, then we are the ones keeping ourselves that way because we elect the government. Are we treating each other like babies by insuring each other’s health care, rather than entrusting it to the whims of the so-called free market where access to health care is regulated by the need for profit?

Single-payer is about health care freedom. It is as just as much a part of the constitution as the pursuit of happiness. It is about the freedom from financial disaster or its potential because of illness. It is about the freedom to choose one’s medical destiny, as opposed to choices being dictated by employment status, income eligibility or an insurance company’s “plan.” Having had personal experience with all of these, and with excessive medical debt, I can attest that neither of these would qualify as freedom.

Single-payer in essence is us taking care of each other. It is the belief that health care is a public good. It is not an American or un-American quality. It is a human quality. It is the same quality that Vermonters admirably showed toward each other after Hurricane Irene hit us. This is as it should be.