Employee Benefits

The U.S. Healthcare System (Government, Taxes, and Currency) is Amazing!

Ed Oleksiak
Ed Oleksiak
Sr. Vice President, Employee Benefits

Before you judge and think I must have fallen and hit my head, please read on. Over the past year, I have presented on multiple occasions on “Medicare for All” and compared it to the healthcare systems of many countries. One of the key points is the cultural differences that exist in many other countries.

Well, last week I traveled through several western European countries and saw some of those differences — several of which were under communist control not that long ago. The countries I traveled through were the size of one of our 50 U.S. states. Over thousands of years, they were repeatedly ruled by different kings, invaders, and dictators.

One country, the Czech Republic, has an amazing story of moving from Communist control in 1990 to a very successful Capitalist country in just 29 years. When the Communist were in control, our tour guide said, “The Communists took everything from us, then said that the citizens owned everything, but we had nothing.” They now have an 18 percent corporate tax rate, which has resulted in the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union of 1.9 percent. By the way, they are the size of South Carolina with a population of 10.6 million.

Now, back to my original comment. The programs we have in the U.S. are AMAZING. Now, I’m not saying they’re perfect. However, it is amazing we have one healthcare system, one currency, one tax system, and one government…and it all (for the most) part works. AMAZING! The 28 members of the European Union can’t even agree on a single currency — only 19 members use the Euro. It’s easy to see how it might be easier to move something like healthcare to a state-based solution, similar to the country-by-country solutions which exists in Europe. Even Canada, often cited as another healthcare system to model, actually has 13 independent provincial and territorial health insurance plans.

The U.S. is different. Since 1776, we have been a Democracy. We love our freedom of choice and independence. We love our ability to work hard and get ahead. Another tour guide in Bratislava, Slovakia lived under Communist rule. She said unemployment was 0 percent — you were jailed if you didn’t work, but there was no work to do. She said, “It was great system for lazy people.”

I think it would serve us well to step back, appreciate, and give ourselves credit for the amazing country we live in. If we could unify as a country on that point, then we could begin to improve on what we have.

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