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Healthcare for All? Part 1

On political issues I lean libertarian, but healthcare, especially for those unable to obtain it in the market, has always been the chink in my armor.

I see healthcare as a right equal to free speech and private property, and I can’t understand how a society that protects other basic rights so jealously would let so many in need suffer with conditions easily treatable for those able to secure insurance.

If the human rights argument is not strong enough, then perhaps the cost saving to society of avoiding expensive bad results by providing inexpensive basic care could be enough to persuade more conservative critics of healthcare for all.

March 3rd is Super Tuesday in the United States.  14 states and Democrats abroad hold their presidential primaries then, and by the end of the day each party’s nominee may be clear.  Trump, of course, has certainly sealed the nomination of the GOP.  Democrats face a number of choices, and one of the issues that separates the candidates is Medicare for All.

That issue alone may reveal whom primary voters decide to support.

I’d like to dedicate four posts to the issue and, if I can, present reasonable arguments from both sides, those who favor universal healthcare coverage and those, while desirous of everyone getting the help they need, don’t think the government should pay for it.

Different countries have different solutions.  In the US we have a hybrid private/public plan that serves many people well, but leaves a sizable number with no insurance.  Most people get their healthcare coverage in the private market through their employer.  Others receive government issued insurance through Medicare and Medicaid.

Whether or not these programs should be expanded, and how, is the issue at hand.

There seem to be three sides to the argument.  One wants universal, government provided insurance for everyone and the elimination of the private healthcare market.

Another wants to preserve the private market, but offer a public option for those unable to obtain private group  insurance.  Since the passage of the ACA, or Obamacare, this is essentially the situation we have in the US right now.

The third group wants the government out of the insurance market almost entirely.  They’re fine with Medicare for  retirees and, for the most part, Medicaid for the destitute and for children.  They just don’t want to see any expansion  of government programs and would like to see the ACA either severely limited or repealed.

I spent years sick in desperate attempts to acquire health insurance that covers mental illness.  Without assistance to afford treatment I never would have recovered.  How many lives are wasted by a system that discards those too ill to participate in programs beyond their limited resources to afford or even understand such coverage in a complicated, expensive system?

The answer many states have found is Medicaid expansion.

While statistics on outcomes imply that Medicaid expansion has been a success, it’s not very popular.  Neither side has  rallied for the continuation of the program.  Almost no candidate even talks about it.

I’m sure there are conservative alternatives to Medicaid expansion and Medicare for All, or the ACA, that do not place an undue burden on those with serious mental illness.  I just haven’t been able to find this information, as much as I would like to and have searched for it.

I’d like this series of posts to foster a conversation between competing caring ideas and ideals.

If you’re aware of workable solutions to take care of the most needy and most ill-treated among us, please air your case here through the comment link.  Or email me at [email protected] with your comments in the body of the email, not as an attachment.  I’ll be sure to present on the blog Practicing Mental Illness reasonable positions that are sent to me.

I especially invite conservative voices to participate in the discussion.  Public discourse says you just don’t care about people without healthcare.  I think you do.

We’re all unreasonably polarized, and while we all re-trench into tired, broken positions, people with serious mental illness are being treated as expendable and less worthy than their more adaptive and successful peers.

The next couple of posts will look at the case for healthcare for all, and the case against it.  Then I’ll try to sum it all up.  Then it will be time for many to vote.  I hope a reasonable, compassionate discovery of ideas is possible.

The situation in place at present is not sustainable, either in cost or coverage.  Opinions matter.  How would you solve the problem?


This post is part of a series.

See part four, “Compassion in the Healthcare Debate” here

See part three, “Healthcare as a Human Right:  The Case Against” here

See part two, “Healthcare as a Human Right:  The Case For” here

Photo by US Army Africa

Healthcare for All? Part 1

George Hofmann

George is the author of Resilience: Handling Anxiety in a Time of Crisis, from Changemakers Books. Visit George's site or join the Facebook group Practicing Mental Illness

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APA Reference
Hofmann, G. (2020). Healthcare for All? Part 1. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 6, 2020, from


Last updated: 3 Mar 2020
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