Just imagine if you didn’t have to worry about your healthcare any longer. Imagine you could keep your doctor and you wouldn’t have to worry about gong bankrupt as a result of medical debt! Well that is about to happen here in Oregon between now and 2027. That’s right, Oregon is leading the way in implementing universal healthcare for all Oregonians. This represents a major shift in how healthcare is delivered and paid for. Needless to say there are several unresolved issues such as how it is paid for, but the net result will be lower healthcare costs overall and the elimination of sky-high healthcare insurance premiums with even high deductibles. Oregon is finally joining the rest of the developed world with this leading move in the US..

We rank last in the OECD’s list of the top 39 countries in healthcare delivery.

The united States has the dubious distinction of paying the most for or healthcare, but still ranking last in quality of care delivery. Why is that? Simple. It is all about profit, for the for profit hospitals, now being snapped up by private equity interests. But even non-profit hospitals (that just means they don’t have shareholders) impose high costs, in part to offset the costs of the uninsured who go to the emergency rooms when they need to, because by law they cannot be turned away. So the cost of those visits is spread across the balance of the insured and private paying patients.

Well, if it seems to work with the emergency room, then why not just scale that approach to the general population and cover everyone? And that is precisely what universal healthcare does. In other countries universal healthcare is paid through a variety of taxes and levies. As a result everyone is covered for essential services. Should someone opt for a service that is not covered, there are still private insurance option available. But no one loses their home or life savings as a result of medical debt, whereas in the US medical debt is the number one cause of personal bankruptcy.

I remember the first time I need to go to the hospital in Ne Zealand after a motorcycle accident. After patching me up the only question they asked me was whether they could call a cab for me to take me home, and even THAT was covered! It turns out that the cost of healthcare in New Zealand is covered under two schemes: the District Health Boards, who collect their funding from taxes by the national government; and the Accident Compensation Commission, which covers accidents like broken arms, auto accidents, workplace things and the like. The acute problems that usually end up in the ER. This is paid by levies, such as fees on your car licensing (in my case a motorcycle that was 50 times more then the car levy!) or by employment fees or other levies. If you work in a hazardous industry there is a higher levy since you are more likely to be injured, like forestry. The system works well and separates those random accidents, from chronic issues like diabetes, arthritis and such. Other countries have other types of healthcare systems, but in the end nowhere else in the developed world treats healthcare like we do in the US.

I am really excited that Oregon is taking the lead on this and am very keen to see that we implement this properly. It could very well be the model the rest of the nation follows if we are successful. Be sure to contact your representatives and support this bold move by Oregon. Of course, how we transition to and pay for this is another matter. You can learn more about that HERE, in this post.


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