US Healthcare: ‘A Lottery in Reverse’?

Is this the ‘Swiss cheese’ model of insurance coverage? Full of (loop)holes?

“Medical problems caused 62% of all personal bankruptcies filed in the U.S. in 2007, according to a study by Harvard researchers. And in a finding that surprised even the researchers, 78% of those filers had medical insurance at the start of their illness, including 60.3% who had private coverage, not Medicare or Medicaid.”

‘Study Links Medical Costs and Personal Bankruptcy’ by Catherine Arnst, Bloomberg Businessweek (

I’ve never understood the US, especially in the way they discuss healthcare. It is as if you are unlucky enough to contract a disease or illness, or get hit or suffer an accident, than you have no expectation that you will be able to get well and NOT be poor?! (Unless, of course, you have lots of money. But, then you don’t need a lottery ticket, eh?!)

So even if you have health insurance, you may still go bankrupt?!

Or, essentially, if you are ‘unlucky’ enough to survive, you than are more likely to go bankrupt? It’s not the ‘Grim Reaper’ you have to fear, but the ‘Grim Repo’.

So, it is really a ‘lottery in reverse’ (lotteries are about the possibility of winning money or a luxury home or care or vacation, not losing everything, as if you were gambling?!).

But, US healthcare coverage seems to be a wee bit more like buying a ticket for the lottery and than finding out that someone else gets to collect the ‘winnings’ from your ticket – if you survive your illness or accident!).

The land of opportunity? For whom? HMOs? Doctors? Insurance companies? Free-market fundamentalist think tanks?

This is why I think of the US healthcare system as a ‘lottery in reverse’ because it is much more expensive (as a cost of GDP) than the single-payer system in Canada or the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, or indeed any of the systems available to millions of people in first-world countries. And your likelihood to survive an illness or disease or accident is no better (from what I know anecdotally: I’m sure we’ve all heard of all the lawsuits for malpractice that go on as well, eh?!).

Of course, there are many billionaires and others who have made fortunes off of the healthcare system, right?!

They and/or their organisations purchase politicians via lobbying to ensure the continuation of a system that works as a “lottery in reverse”, right?!

Isn’t even President Obama sponsored by private healthcare organisations?!

And, they should have a right to make money off of people’s misfortunes, right?! Or at least protect ‘their’ way of (luxury) living?!

Isn’t that the ‘American Way’?

(Personally, I don’t believe that because I have travelled extensively in the US and met loads of wonderful people, many of whom are not happy with the system as it is.)


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Filed under Economics, Healthcare, Humour, Politics, Uncategorized

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