There’s a great article today talking about the uninsured’s perceived lack of political power. Much of what the article
says feels true – I can certainly attest that people who lack health insurance often see it as a shameful thing – a statement about their own failures instead of something they could demand from government or society at large. Even the fact that coverage for their family would cost more than their mortgage doesn’t change the emotional response of personal failure. Unfortunately, this type of reaction lends itself to a world of silent suffering, instead of political action. And the article is absolutely right when it talks about how those most affected are often unable to be politically active – Certainly here in California, even among the affluent, the moment when many people discover the failures of their private insurance is exactly when they are too overwhelmed by illness to do anything about it.
But I do think that one “conventional wisdom” the article asserts might be dead wrong – that a politician who gets health coverage for the 50+ million uninsured is not going to reap any political benefits from doing so. If someone pulls it off, I think the political benefits would be staggering. Even China announced plans to have basic health coverage for all citizens by 2011. My in-laws are all British and the accepted wisdom from people of different political stripes is that Maggie Thatcher got tossed out because she attempted to dismantle nationalized health. Now that’s political power…
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