Why Asbestos Victims Must Support Single-Payer Health Care

Americans are not the only people suffering from asbestos disease, nor is the U.S. the only nation in which the judicial system has been flooded with asbestos litigation. All over the world, particularly in the U.K., Canada, Australia, Western Europe and Japan, people have suffered from asbestos exposure and are turning to their respective legal systems in seeking compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering and loss of consortium. However, asbestos victims in these countries are not awarded compensation for medical expenses. It’s not necessary. People in these countries enjoy complete health care services, including surgery, hospital stays, medication and ongoing therapy without worrying about bankrupting medical bills or “pre-existing conditions.” This is because health care in these countries, indeed, in every major industrialized nation on earth except one, is financed through the government with tax revenues.

The exception is the U.S., where 50% of all bankruptcies are due to health care expenses and that’s among people who are insured! Nearly 50 million Americans have no access to health care whatsoever, and 18,000 Americans die every year because they cannot afford treatment. That’s six times the number of people from all over the world who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center. Without getting into the moral issues of whether or not a society should guarantee quality health care to all of its members, there are practical realities that need to be addressed–namely, that the lack of access to health care for all citizens is contributing to the bankrupting of the U.S. economy. Despite the assertions that the “private sector” can administer health care in a more economical and efficient way, the fact is that health care in the U.S. costs twice what it does in other countries (over $7100 per capita)–yet the quality of that care is substantially less.