Despite the fact that the US altogether spends
arguably more on public health than any other economic force in the West, next
to nothing about its healthcare system is democratic. Like most everything else,
this industry, or market sector, only exists to serve profit motive. Any
ostensibly beneficial components, which might appear to favor the marginalized,
are little more than the usual rotten fruits of a welfare capitalism that keeps
the poor working class divided against itself. As the system grows more and
more costly to the public, the rich get richer and the poor invariably suffer.
Ultimately, radically democratic change in American healthcare is necessary to
fix the problem, and Cuba holds the answer.
When compared to all other so-called
“industrialized” democracies, the United States of America is the only one that
does not afford its people universal healthcare. The truth is that the
healthcare industry is one of the most important pillars of the American
economy for the rich; through capitalizing on illness and highly
anti-democratic pricing, the plutocracy pools and stratifies incredible amounts
wealth. Public funds do little more than grease the profiteering skids.
Moreover, the ghastly amount spent on public health is not some dutiful act of
governmental benevolence, some compliance representative of popular, democratic
sentiment; rather, it is merely another indication of the reverse funneling of
Such an incredible amount of spending does not even
ensure Americans the best healthcare in the world. It certainly does not secure
for its people the best system that money can buy. One report tells of at least
45,000 people dying yearly as a result of having no healthcare or access to it.
Furthermore, many social democracies and communist countries from all latitudes
score higher than the Yanks when it comes to public health measures and
progress on that front. Cuba, say,
actually does more with less.
A country like Cuba cannot afford to allow private
enterprises to milk public pockets, nor does it want that for itself. Cuba has
invoked a radically democratic means to ensure public health standards rise
rather than fall in earnest. The result? Cuban healthcare far exceeds that of the
US, and it does a far better job treating its
body politic than America does her own.
Despite any shortcomings, Cuban healthcare has
achieved what seems a pipe dream to most Americans. So, Americans should choose
to learn from Cuba’s example, rather than falling victim to the systematized
rhetoric that claims all things Cuban, and therefore all things communist, are
inherently evil and of no use to them. Actually looking to some of the key
components of Cuba’s sustainably democratic model would save the US populace
both money and lives. The
following are a six Cuban methods which the American people should adopt in
order to make healthcare cheaper, more democratic, and universal for all people living within the US.
Access. In order to shrink the existing disparity in its
people’s healthcare, Cuba endeavored for complete accessibility. Increased
accessibility thus led to the adoption of a universal system, one which yielded
unprecedented levels of healthcare for all
Cubans. By 1999, Cuba boasted one doctor per every 175 Cubans. With greater
access and a new system predicated on it, new medical jobs were also created
around the country.
and Innovation. Cuban policy
allocates large amounts of funding to research. A poorer nation than the US,
Cuba actually strives to comply with World Health Organization recommendations:
Cuba funds a percentage of all
health-related costs, as well a portion of its research and training programs.
This is also born out of necessity; due to the US and its embargo-driven
transgressions against the poor island nation, many vaccinations had to be
developed in-house, rather than traded-for, with other nations. Still, Cuba has
funded many break-through revolutions in the medical field. The US needs to
have at least the same policy toward
funding its medical research.
Funding. Due to the fact that
Cuba’s health system is principally funded by the state, free preventive
medical treatment and diagnostic testing are offered the people as a mainstay
of its healthcare ethos. Cuba also offers certain free medications and other
subsidizing options as an added value to the people. This keeps healthcare
cheaper while also keeping the public perhaps healthier than it otherwise might
and Primary Care. Cuba subscribes
to the Alma Ata Declaration, guaranteeing “Health for All.” Cuba thus focuses
largely on its primary care. Many research experts claim that Cuba maintains
this dedication to “health for all” more comprehensively than anywhere else in
the world, especially the US. As the benchmark of the Cuban healthcare system is primary care, the resulting system
roots itself in a social health that seeks not only to aid its people, but also
to engender a nation-wide culture of health. The people thus see the benefits
of universal healthcare and these, its other components, and they endeavor
democratically to improve upon it.
Integration. Specialized care means that each medical
consultation will, if necessary, result in referrals to specific “polyclinics”
that exist within each community. Cuba’s integrated system has therefore led to
a decrease in hospital visits and to hospitalization in general. This
absolutely drives down costs. Patients released from the hospitals receive home
visits from their doctors as well. This system style allows Cuba to cope with
unparalleled economic strains while also providing radically democratic,
world-class healthcare in any community.
Planning: The Cuban health ministry broadened not only the quality of care it provides, but also it
improved efficiency and efficacy. Satisfying the needs of the population
increased nearly in tandem with these efforts. Many of Cuba’s different state
sectors were integrated, including the social and economic areas that also
affect its public health. This planning was underscored by public participation
and democratic management, as well as educational efforts on the front to
sustain improvements in Cuba’s general public health.
Ultimately, the status of rich nations, like the
US, continues to evince that wealth is no guarantor of great health care. At
the same time, a very poor country with communist leanings far outstrips the US
in myriad aspects of public health and healthcare. Arguably, the Cuban
healthcare system is for the people, by
the people, while the US system remains for
the profit off ’the people. The
exemplary distinction drawn between the nations of Cuba and the US can only
further solidifies this for any potential skeptic.
If Americans adopt these elements from Cuban model
in order to improve healthcare, then tailoring them to the many cultural
nuances present in American society could reshape American healthcare in both
fiscal manageability and democratic control. The public will gain from this.
Furthermore, a reduction in the spending (indirect and direct) that lubricates
America’s current backwards healthcare system would yet afford the public
economic power to grow other segments of the economy. Such a transformation in
American healthcare is well within the realm of possibility, almost to the
point of inevitability. Nevertheless, employing these measures firstly assumes
that Americans do, in fact, want a better, more democratic healthcare system.
Hopefully, they do.
Mateo Pimentel lives on the Mexican-US
border, writing for many alternative political newsletters and publications.
Much of his work can be found on CounterPunch.com
© Copyright 2014 by AxisofLogic.com
This material is available for republication as long as reprints include verbatim copy of the article in its entirety, respecting its integrity. Reprints must cite the author and Axis of Logic as the original source including a "live link" to the article. Thank you!