The Right to Health Care!

Youth, students, and workers must take the position that health care is a social right—along with education, housing, employment, retirement and access to culture—not a privilege reserved for the wealthy, and must be provided to all free of charge.

The only way to ensure this right is through the nationalization of the health care industry and its transformation into a publicly owned institution under the democratic control of the working class. On this basis, conscientious health care professionals, scientists and administrators will be empowered to marshal the resources created by the labor of the working class to meet the needs of the entire population.

The US, the most advanced capitalist country in the world, has the poorest health overall among high-income countries. Recent studies show that forty-four percent of lower income people in the US reported financial barriers to care, compared to 26 percent of those with higher incomes. By comparison, in the UK only 7 percent of people with lower incomes and 4 percent with higher incomes reported that costs prevented them from getting care.

According to the study, in the US population as whole in the past year:

  • 33 percent had cost-related access problems to medical care.
  • 32 percent skipped dental care or check-ups due to cost.
  • 27 percent were denied insurance payment for care or did not receive as much as expected.
  • 20 percent had serious problems paying or were unable to pay medical bills.
  • 60 percent of doctors reported patients often had difficulty paying for medications or out-of-pocket costs.
  • 54 percent of doctors reported time spent on insurance claims is a major problem.
  • 54 percent of doctors reported a major problem getting patients needed medications or treatment because of insurance coverage restrictions.

These problems are worse in the low-income segment of the US population. For example, 44 percent of this group had a cost-related access problem to medical care, and 45 percent skipped dental care or a check-up due to cost. There is also a 24 percent gap between those in the above average and below average income groups who skipped dental care due to cost.

Some of the most shocking statistics presented are on population mortality, in which the US ranked last in every category studied compared to the other 10 countries.

  • Infant mortality: 6 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to Sweden, with 2.2 (the lowest)
  • Life expectancy at age 60: 23.5 years in the US, compared to 25.7 in France (the highest)

America, along with Europe and large swathes of the world, is heading into a new period of class struggle. What the experience of decades of austerity, war and political reaction shows is that the defense of the most basic social needs, such as health care, is today a revolutionary question. Capitalism in its advanced stage of crisis and putrefaction is incompatible with basic democratic and social rights—including the right to a decent-paying and secure job, health care, housing, education, access to culture and a secure retirement.

The working class must advance its own independent program based on the fight for socialism. Profit must be taken out of health care. The health care industry must be removed from private hands and placed under public ownership and the democratic control of the working class. This requires an implacable struggle against entrenched wealth and privilege, and the political system that enforces them.

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