There’s a basic conflict of interest at the heart of American health care. We need to break up the industry to fix it.

By Matt Stoller, The Lever

The dominant trend of US social life over the last fifteen years is a stagnating, and then declining, life span. There are many reasons for this trend, such as violence, diet, suicide, drug addiction, and auto accidents. But for many reasons, our monopolistic health care system is a big part of the problem.

pills and money healthcare for profit

Monopolistic drug wholesalers fostered the opioid crisis, and now, for the same reason, they are creating shortages of prescription drugs. Untreated mental illness is a significant factor in elevated suicide rates. Not being able to get care when you need it is associated with higher levels of death and permanent injury. More fundamentally, knowing that there are no systems in place to protect or care for you undermines any sense of hope.

It’s easy to describe what is happening as consistent with an overall pessimistic tale about the U.S., one that is almost uniquely American. The story goes that in the U.S., the richest country in the world, citizens can’t get access to a doctor when they need it. Most of Europe, and most countries globally, have universal health care, and some have had it for more than a century. By contrast, we’ve never had it here.

America almost achieved universal health care multiple times. Teddy Roosevelt proposed it, so did Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. They failed, largely because of the powerful doctor lobby — the American Medical Association — standing against it.

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