Take the Profit out of Health Insurance

“Measures to prevent ill health and disease are as important as the availability of appropriate medical treatment and care. It is therefore essential to take a holistic approach to health, whereby both prevention and care are placed within the context of environmental policy...."
- From the United Nation’s “Habitat Agenda”

Take the Profit out of Health Insurance

What are the environmental costs of private health insurance? Many studies have shown that private health insurance is not working for people in the U.S., in particular for the almost 50 million uninsured and the thousands driven to bankruptcy by uncovered medical expenses. But private health insurance also takes its toll on the environment by encouraging a medical approach to disease management and discouraging a public health approach to disease prevention. In a 2006 study, the World Health Organization estimated that almost a quarter of all disease is caused by environmental exposures that could be averted. But in reality, research to better understand the links between the water we drink, the food we grow, the air we breathe, and illness, injury and disease is promoted by neither government nor corporations.  Independently funded think tanks such as the Silent Spring Institute 
continue to track the long-term health effects of some pollutants. Grassroots organizations such as TEWA Women United collect plant and water samples to track the long-term presence and effects of nuclear fallout. Their efforts provide the evidence to test specific hypotheses linking contaminants to symptoms, but imagine how this work could flourish if it were better funded.

Private health insurance exists to make a profit. A single-payer health care system, or even the “strong public alternative” being promoted in current congressional debates, can help take the profit out of health insurance, lowering the cost to the consumer and to society at large.

WILPF has long endorsed HR676, introduced by WILPF supporter Rep. John Conyers and now supported by 78 co-sponsors, which would extend Medicare to cover not just the elders of our society but everyone.

In addition to supporting passage of HR676, we encourage you to check out the actions organized by Health Care Now to build grassroots momentum for a single-payer health care plan.

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