Wednesday, August 31, 2005
I'm sure it will piss off any number of Freedom-Fry-eating jingos, but when the bird flu pandemic begins, those "nationalized-healthcare-surrender-monkeys" will be much better off than us. They have begun stockpiling antiviral agents and pre-ordering vaccines. We have not.
Everyone in France has access to medical care, which means that cases will be caught, isolated, and treated much more quickly than in places where huge swathes of the population can't afford to seek treatment until it's too late. Unfortunately, "places where huge swathes of the population can't afford to seek treatment until it's too late" include the United States. Even if we did stockpile vaccines and antivirals, that second detail would render them rapidly ineffective.
Our national lack of healthcare and sufficient paid leave to seek it has economic effects: health woes cost the US economy about $260 billion per year (pdf)! It's unclear how much of this is really due to inadequate insurance coverage and inadequate leave time, but it is clear a good bit of it is.