Obama’s nor McCain’s proposed health care reforms can fix America’s broken system.">
Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.

Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:

Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view

whats new at ieet

Le syndrome 1984 ou Gattaca

How we can start winning the war against cancer

What you need to know about CRISPR

Brain Implant Allows Paralyzed Man to Feel Objects With a Prosthetic Limb

Technology hasn’t changed love. Here’s why

Why Non-Natural Moral Realism is Better than Divine Command Theory

ieet books

Philosophical Ethics: Theory and Practice
John G Messerly


rms on 'Can we build AI without losing control over it?' (Oct 24, 2016)

spud100 on 'For the unexpected innovations, look where you'd rather not' (Oct 22, 2016)

spud100 on 'Have you ever inspired the greatest villain in history? I did, apparently' (Oct 22, 2016)

RJP8915 on 'Brexit for Transhumanists: A Parable for Getting What You Wish For' (Oct 21, 2016)

instamatic on 'What democracy’s future shouldn’t be' (Oct 20, 2016)

instamatic on 'Is the internet killing democracy?' (Oct 17, 2016)

RJP8915 on 'The Ethics of a Simulated Universe' (Oct 17, 2016)

Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List


Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Hottest Articles of the Last Month

Here’s Why The IoT Is Already Bigger Than You Realize
Sep 26, 2016
(6025) Hits
(1) Comments

IEET Fellow Stefan Sorgner to discuss most recent monograph with theologian Prof. Friedrich Graf
Oct 3, 2016
(4177) Hits
(0) Comments

Blockchain Fintech: Programmable Risk and Securities as a Service
Oct 22, 2016
(4095) Hits
(0) Comments

Space Exploration, Alien Life, and the Future of Humanity
Oct 4, 2016
(4051) Hits
(1) Comments

IEET > Life > Access > Health > Contributors > Silke Fauve

Print Email permalink (3) Comments (4297) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg

America’s Journey to Universal Healthcare: A Long and Winding Road

Silke Fauve
By Silke Fauve
Ethical Technology

Posted: Jun 13, 2008

Neither Obama’s nor McCain’s proposed health care reforms can fix America’s broken system.

In either case, there will be a significant number of people who still can’t afford the care that would enable them to survive a life threatening illness or accident.  The $2,500 savings or tax credit is small change in a world where $300,000 hospital bills and $1,500 a month drug expenses are possible.  Although $2,500 might cover a portion of the cost of threadbare insurance plans, it would not cover the bills incurred by chronically ill patients who need to fill five or six prescriptions for expensive drugs every month, or save the lives of those whose insurance “runs out” during an extended illness.

One obstacle to arriving at a humane and efficient universal coverage solution is that Americans remain divided about whether all citizens deserve health care, regardless of their level of economic productivity.  We lack solidarity. If we really believed “it’s our willingness to be our brothers’ keepers that in part defines who we are as Americans,” as Michael L. Millenson claims in “Want Universal Health Care? The Operative ‘Word Is ‘Care’” we would have taken decisive action long ago. 

Millenson admits that fewer and fewer physicians are willing to accept Medicaid and uninsured patients. One might be tempted to denounce prosperous physicians for their inflated charges and for shunning the uninsured. But it’s likely that many doctors care; they simply can’t afford to accept the comparatively small reimbursement, considering their enormous overhead and escalating malpractice premiums. Physicians who escape that quicksand scenario by practicing within the confines of managed care must sacrifice autonomy. The current system has betrayed both doctors and patients. 

In response to a New York Times editorial suggesting that Medicare be expanded to replace private insurance companies, Arnold S. Relman, M.D. writes that nothing short of “salaried physicians working in prepaid medical groups” will stem the rising cost of medical care.  This professor emeritus of medicine and social medicine at Harvard Medical School explains that Medicare’s costs have kept pace with escalating private sector costs because “economic incentives encourage overuse of expensive medical technology even when it is of unproven or marginal benefit.”

Through the lens of the socialism-fearing economists writing for Capitalism Magazine, universal health care is a euphemism for socialized medicine, with its accompanying evils: poor service, bureaucratic waste, erosion of physician autonomy, and elimination of patient choice. But how can that be the case when universal care providers would not be on the government payroll, but have a fee-for-service practice? The Case for Universal Health Care in the United States explains that “it is a health care payment system, not a health care delivery system.” 

It’s true that patients in Canada and other universal systems have had to put up with longer waits for appointments and have endured other restrictions that Americans would find onerous.  However, they are in the process of implementing the needed reforms, and by studying their systems America could learn how to avoid some of the initial problems. In a presentation at the 2007 World Health Congress in Barcelona, Spain, David Nicholson, the chief executive of Britain’s patient centered National Health Service, explained how the UK has increased its per capita healthcare spending by 11 percent between 2002 and 2008, resulting in dramatically decreased wait times and a significant decrease in mortality rates for major diseases.  Not only have patient care and outcomes improved, the system expects a surplus of £13m. Patients continue to report “high levels of satisfaction.”

Nicholson reported that the UK is also implementing information technology that improves patient care and encourages patients to assume more personal responsibility in managing their health.  British patients are scheduling appointments online and receiving prescriptions electronically.  Doctors have e-access to patients’ x-rays, enabling them to diagnose life-threatening conditions and intervene from a distance. Eventually, patients, as well as their doctors, will be able to view their medical records online in interactive formats tailored to the needs of each.

We have a long way to go.

America remains the only industrialized nation without universal coverage for its citizens. We proudly spend considerably more—at least 40 percent more per capita—than nations with universal access to care, only to achieve markedly poorer performance.  And we obtain this sorry outcome despite the outstanding education of our health care professionals and our superior medical infrastructure. Even those who lack fellow-feeling for the non-insured and under-insured might feel a twinge of shame about that.

Silke Fauve teaches college English and promotes critical thinking about transhumanist issues, as a World Transhumanist Association activist.

Silke Fauve teaches college English in Washington and promotes critical thinking about transhumanist issues, as a Humanity+ activist.
Print Email permalink (3) Comments (4298) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


Your post includes certain facts that i didn’t know about.Strange to know that America is the only industrialized nation which does not offer universal coverage for its citizens.


Even after being heavily involved in reading on Ethics technology for around a year, Now only I have gained knowledge on this through your article.Thanks for sharing.

I have healthcare, and I waited 3 hours at my local ER.

YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: IEET News for June 14, 2008

Previous entry: Review: Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population


RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

East Coast Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA 
Email: director @ ieet.org     phone: 860-428-1837

West Coast Contact: Managing Director, Hank Pellissier
425 Moraga Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611
Email: hank @ ieet.org