Health Care vs. the Profit Principle

The greatest contribution of Michael’s Moore’s Sicko is his direct and unambiguous attack on the profit motive in healthcare. Moore shows that since the insurance companies have turning a profit as their prime directive — rather than providing care for and healing people — they cannot help but keep adding to the ranks of under- and uninsured Americans.

But attacking the profit motive in America is so unamerican. SWe will need many more people making the case. Such as Barbara Ehrenreich:

I once tried to explain to a Norwegian woman why it was so hard for me to find health insurance. I’d had breast cancer, I told her, and she looked at me blankly. “But then you really need insurance, right?” Of course, and that’s why I couldn’t have it.

This is not because health insurance executives are meaner than other people, although I do not rule that out. It’s just that they’re running a business, the purpose of which is not to make people healthy, but to make money, and they do very well at that. Once, many years ago, I complained to the left-wing economist Paul Sweezey that America had no real health system. “We have a system all right,” he responded, “it’s just a system for doing something else.” A system, as he might have put it today, for extracting money from the vulnerable and putting it into the pockets of the rich.

Of course, transferring wealth from the poor to the rich is the whole point of American capitalism, so things will not be improving any time soon.

If government insurance for children (S-CHIP) isn’t expanded to all the families that need it, there is no question but that some children will die — painfully perhaps and certainly unnecessarily. But at least they will have died for a principle.

Michael Sky

Michael Sky