Health care deprivation is an act of violence


An estimated 123 people die each day because they lack health insurance. 

These preventable deaths, often called “amenable mortality” by medical researchers, result from negligence induced by corporate rapacity and torrential PAC money flowing into political campaigns. 

Some politicians lament the current system, expressing aspirations to “repeal and replace,” yet the Congressional Budget Office projected 26 million fewer insured people, paying more under the GOP’s 2017 health bill, all while the affluent receive a $52,000 annual tax cut.

Others laud the system, overlooking its inefficacy; the Heritage Foundation crafted health bill, Obamacare, resulted in over 27 million people uninsured, a nonexistent rate in 28 other industrialized nations with superior health care systems. 

One million of these uninsured people declared bankruptcy in 2015. Medical costs are notably among this country’s leading bankruptcy causes – again, disproportionately affecting poor Americans most.

These numbers reflect a much broader issue plaguing society: structural violence, or violence that prevents people from meeting their basic needs and, subsequently, realizing their full potential. Implementing policies which withhold health care is unequivocally state sanctioned violence against its own people, especially the poor, marginalized and vulnerable, as they suffer more damage than any other socioeconomic group.

Under moral imperative, elected officials must end this near zero-sum approach of preserving human life, and I insist they acknowledge that before customers, we are humans with no input in our conception who deserve high quality health care as a basic human right. Rampant commodification of human suffering destroys individuals’ dignity and potential. 

For instance, one Nobel Laureate afforded medical bills only after selling his medal for $765,000, and prohibitively expensive bills forced another’s deciding between crowdfunding life-saving heart transplant surgery and dying. Insurance companies employing dubious money saving strategies like insurance rescission, or the retroactive cancellation of a policy, only make life more difficult.

The only tenable solution which would prevent potential suffering is Medicare-For-All (MFA). Unfortunately, members of the political establishment dismiss this system as a gordian knot impossible to cut: “How do we pay for it?” “Taxes will increase!” “What about insurance companies?” “Nothing in life is free!” Kristi Noem and her ilk express such feigned apprehension more to preserve profits than human life. 

South Dakota’s prominent pro-lifers like Noem, Rounds and Thune accepted campaign contributions from one financial firm responsible for the ‘08 financial crash, Goldman Sachs. In April 2018, Goldman Sachs analysts published a report questioning whether curing patients is a “sustainable business model.” 

I’m ineffably disappointed in our elected officials’ willing financial association with such morally egregious organizations. They implicitly endorsed capitalizing human suffering.

Despite popular belief, MFA has economic benefits. A recent Political Economy Research Institute study concluded MFA would save the government $5.1 trillion over the next decade and decrease taxes for 95 percent of people.

To all elected South Dakota representatives: For the aforementioned reasons – for human decency – I implore you to introduce legislation reflecting MFA on both national, and especially local levels, considering positive change often starts from the bottom up. The issue is no longer debatable: 70 percent of Americans support this system. The additional money for already profitable insurance companies isn’t worth 45 thousand annual preventable deaths; your refusal to enact policies guaranteeing every individual high-quality health care is an act of violence.

Our society can benefit from accepting the grim, yet liberating fact that dumb, indiscriminate luck determines more life outcomes than we’d like to admit, health-related or otherwise. This realization allows us to empathize with others’ misfortune and develop a deep sense of compassion we can practice in our daily lives.

Thanks to Caleb Evenson for his invaluable input.