health care

Mortality is Universal but Health Care is Not—So Who Dies? When?

photo by John Dominis

photo by John Dominis

Health Care is the issue that Americans keep naming as their top worry for pollsters. The latest survey found 48 percent saying so to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. We ranked it above taxes, the environment, and immigration, the other biggest priorities named. A US News & World Report article said the reason some people gave: costs are not getting any more manageable.

You think?

Despite Trump’s campaign promises of making health care “much less expensive and much better,” Trump’s cabinet and staff never proposed anything but repealing ObamaCare. Their “replace” part, half-baked in secret meetings of Republicans, ultimately resulted in a failed vote. But that didn’t stop Trump and his allies. The new tax bill scraps a mandate that makes the insurance pool more affordable and less sick—which he and syncophant Republican leaders count a victory thanks to his “exquisite leadership.”

Meanwhile, the Childrens Health Insurance Program has not been renewed and the White House canceled ACA insurer subsidies, creating market mayhem and premium jumps. Our progress in reducing the numbers of uninsured is over; their numbers and expensive emergency room medicine will only increase with a mandate repealed.

Apparently Congress failed to notice what its own government reported in early December. How long can we generally expect to live?  For the first time since 1993, when AIDs was a new plague, overall US life expectancy fell, particularly among people younger than 65! The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) tracks these numbers, the latest data from 2015. In the context of other developed nations that continue to see longevity increase, US health declines are very troubling.

Investment in prevention could reduce our costs. In early November NCHS reported on the second year of increase in gun deaths, our gun-toting ethos now even tolerating Trump’s “fire and fury” and threats of nuclear war. Did I mention our mental health?? The American Public Health Association lists as our top five health threats, climate change, environmental health, health equity, gun violence, and health reform. More than 40 people a day die of opioid overdoses, and it is not as if any of this despair and pain has a place to go without our uniting to care for all of us, come hell or high water.