Obama’s Healthcare Lessons To The World

When you’re the newly-installed leader of the most powerful nation in the world and you inherit two of the biggest issues facing the country and the world, there are many ways to skin the cat. The woeful state of the economy aside, healthcare  is the next main concern for Americans.

Roughly 45·7 million Americans—15% of the country’s population—lack health insurance. Both wealthy and poorer states have almost a quarter of residents between the ages of 18 years and 64 years uninsured. The US Congressional Budget Office predicts that, nationwide, the number of uninsured people will rise by 10 million in the next decade. And this in a country where health-care expenditure alone is estimated to exceed US$2·5 trillion this year (17% of the GDP).

How did this situation arise? Well, largely because there has never been a national policy of healthcare; healthcare services were private-sector driven and subjected to market forces. Only the elderly (Medicare), the poor (Medicaid) and the military (Veterans Health Admin) were provided with some sort of cover, and this too was limited. Not that there were no attempts by previous Presidents to redress the issue. The Clinton (Hilary, not Bill) healthcare plan was mooted in 1993 to provide universal healthcare for all Americans but fell by the wayside – largely because it was formulated behind closed doors and eventually  attacked by its own party members.


The White House Forum on Health Reform, March 5, brought together 150 participants representing healthcare stakeholders

Enter President Obama.  Realising Clinton’s mistake of not getting public consensus first before planning, one of his first tasks was to call for a obamahealthplan1White House Forum on Health Reform summit in the East Room which was held on 5th March 2009 and attended by  150 representatives, including legislators from both parties and representatives of interest groups such as drug companies, health professionals and labour unions.

Lesson No 2 – engage the people across the country. Via the internet,  9000 community discussions were held throughout the country from December 2008  and 3,000 reports filed in to the forum.

Even at the Summit, it was clear that the President wasn’t going to get his way as exemplified by his campaign promises on healthcare reform (covered by my posting here “Obama vs McCain on Healthcare”). But there was room for compromise and consensus..lesson no 3.

Although the path is long and expensive and the solutions far from apparent, the President concluded that there was “a clear consensus” over the need for reform, promising a “transparent and inclusive” process.

Initiating a national healthcare  financing plan is an arduous challenge for any country in the world, but the lessons from Obama so far show a practicable and feasible way of tackling the problem, no matter how enormous it is.  Perhaps, other countries (like Malaysia, where they have been vacillating a national insurance plan for decades) can benefit from these lessons on the way to go forward.

4 responses

  1. Hello , I like a lot your blog post especially this article, it looks very interesting.

  2. Thanks for this article Doc. Not just interesting but crucial (especially to engage the people and the experts before the Government decides on the policy).

    Najib or whoever takes over as PM needs to take a very serious look at our national healthcare policies. Healthcare has become very expensive and the cost to the individual will continue to increase.

    Thank you.

    Doctor2008 replies: Thanks for linking my article to your blog. Obama’s methods can be the way ahead for Malaysia and other countries. Let’s hope the leadership take notice!

  3. Finally, the time has arrived to fix Americas Healthcare crisis, and Americas healthcare knightmare. Hundreds of thousands of you are killed needlessly every year by your healthcare delivery system in a rush to profit. And because of a rush to profit Hundreds of thousands more of you are needlessly dying from treatable illness that people in other developed and civilized countries don’t DIE! from. Rich, middle class, and poor alike. Insured, and uninsured. Men, women, children, and babies.

    Additionally, thousands more of you are driven into financial ruin, and bankruptcy just because you, or one of your loved ones got sick or injured. And all of this is happening at a time when America spends twice as much of it’s GDP (Gross Domestic Productivity) on health care than any other country in the developed world. Individual Americans spend about ten times as much on health care as any other people in the developed world. This is a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. AND IT MUST END!

    But before we can truly fix this healthcare crisis and disgrace, everyone needs to clearly understand what the problem is. And everyone needs to clearly understand the real enormity of the problem. The problem is that HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL DELIVERY IN AMERICA IS SEVERELY CORRUPTED AND COMPROMISED BY GREED! AND THE PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MOTIVE. And it is corrupted, and compromised IN EVERY ASPECT, AND EVERY PLACE OF HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL DELIVERY. Unfortunately for all Americans, compromised healthcare ALWAYS results in needless suffering, injury, disability, and or death. Which is exactly what is happening now in America in shocking numbers.

    Health care is NOT! a private for profit business. Healthcare is an essential public service. Like police, and fire. And healthcare is also a human right! PRIVATE FOR PROFIT HEALTHCARE IS AN OXYMORON, AND AN IMMORAL AND UNETHICAL PERVERSION OF HEALTHCARE AND HUMAN RIGHTS.

    So how do we fix this healthcare disgrace? I believe the fix for Americas healthcare disaster is essentially the same thing that every other developed country in the World has essentially done. “NOT FOR PROFIT, TAX PAYER SUPPORTED, SINGLE PAYER, AUTOMATIC, FREE UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE FOR ALL. Essentially HR676 (enhanced, and expanded medicare for all). Just like every other CIVILIZED! country in the developed World has. There is no other way to truly fix and reform our current disastrous healthcare delivery system.

    All Universal health care systems work best when everyone participates. But I know that the healthcare lobby, and some politicians will try and undermine “Not For Profit, Tax payer supported, Single payer, Automatic, Free Universal Healthcare for all” by falsely claiming that it will limit your choice, and require you to participate.

    So, I propose that everyone be included in the national plan unless they choose to opt out. If you opt out and need medical care the national plan will insure your provider that they will be reimbursed under the rules for members in the national plan. But those who opted out, and their insurer will be responsible for the FULL! cost to the national plan for providing your care if you or your private insurer fails to reimburse the provider or the national plan in a timely manor to at least the standards of the national plan.

    Including reporting you to credit agencies, withholding of taxes, leans, and garnishment of wages for unpaid medical bills. Just like you have now under private for profit healthcare, and private for profit health insurance.

    Further, people who opted out will be required to provide proof of financial responsibility for future illness or be required to participate in the national plan. And everyone with children will be required to participate in the national plan. Or provide proof of insurance coverage on each child to the standards of the national plan. It will be against the law to report anyone in the national plan to a credit agency for unpaid medical bills.

    Frankly, only a dope would want to opt out of the national plan and opt to keep our current disastrous private for profit medical, and insurance plans. But they will be free to choose. The most important thing is that the vast majority of Americans that want the protection, benefits, and higher quality of a universal national plan have that choice.

    You see, one of the most important aspects of a universal healthcare system is easy access, and patient protection. This is accomplished by having a single payer without a conflict of interest in patient care. And by having a payer who has the power to enforce minimum standards of excellence in healthcare delivery for everyone in the plan. This is much of what Medicare does now for senors. “Aeger Primo” (The patient first). Unfortunately in our healthcare system the patient comes last. We are just a peace of meat to them. Cash cows to be slaughtered for profit.

    So this is IT! my fellow Americans, My fellow human beings, My fellow World Citizens. And my fellow Cyber Warriors. 🙂 The time has come. D day. H hour. HEALTHCARE REFORM THIS YEAR! Let no one stand in our way. Contact your representative and tell them you want “Not For Profit, Tax Payer Supported, Single Payer, Automatic, Free Universal healthcare for all. And tell them you want that choice now. Tell them you want President Obama’s budget passed as is, without delay. President Obama’s budget is brilliant. And exactly what is needed now.

    President Obama, and his allies will need all the support you can give them. The healthcare lobby will try to take out his people if they can, like they did with Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer. And they will try to neutralize President Obama’s popularity, and political power. Or they will try to take him down someway. Don’t stand for it. If they attack him. Go after them ten times harder and remove them from office. We had an election. And you the people chose President Obama’s leadership, and change agenda. Let no one in government disrespect the will of the American people and remain in office.

    To President Obama, his Cabinet, the Congress of the United States, and the Supreme Court. I have noticed for some time a disturbing tendency for key members of your bodies to come down with illness, or medical problems at critical legislative times. This may just be coincidence. But I can tell you that there are a million subtle ways to medically injure someone just by doing nothing when something needs to be done. Or by doing things to someone when nothing needs to be done except to give them reassurance. I know for a fact that there are those that would have no qualms about hurting any of you to preserve our current disgraceful medical status quo.

    So, I recommend as a matter of national security that you enlist the help of a friendly power to regularly review, and oversee the medical care you receive from your local regular healthcare providers. Briton, France and many other countries have excellent medical providers. As well as Canada. Briton, and Canada may be less of a language barrier for Americans.

    Let’s get this healthcare reform done now my fellow Americans. This year. Take no prisoners.

    God Bless All Of You

    Jack Smith — Working Class 🙂


  4. Umah Papachan-Hewitt | Reply

    To say that 45 million Americans are without medical insurance is a LIE.

    You need to break down who are these 45 million Americans you talk about. 20 million are between the ages of 18 to 30 who don’t want insurance because they rather spend that money on partying, The next 20 million are illegals who already get medical aid paid for by legal American taxpayers.

    7 million already get health care covered by Medicaid & Medicare which is already running into a deficit. Its these two govt-run schemes that should be fixed not creating another boondoggle health care run by government.

    The reason behind Obama’s health care reform is simply to expand government spending & give the Democrats more power. This is Socialism wanting to demonise private health care givers by accusing them of GREED, which is the consistent theme of many liberals and Socialists.

    There is no such thing as Free Health Care – its comes with a price. Higher taxes like in Sweden, Canada and Britain.

    What liberals fail to tell you is that a bureaucrat in Washington or in KL will dictate whether you deserve to get the treatment that you paid for all your life. Take UK, recently the rationing body NICE refused to pay for new drugs for breast cancer patients. They had to fight for it & finally NICE capitulated.

    In Sweden, it takes 6 or 8 months to get a diagnostic heart scan. Its that the quality that you want.

    Universal health care comes with a heavy price, poor quality of service & long waiting lists despite what the liberals want you to believe in. I lived in UK for 8 years. I saw at first hand the appalling service the NHS provided for old folks that broke their hips. They had to wait 6 months for operation. They waited in agony. And this has not changed.

    The liberals want universal health care its because they want to control our lives and take away our choices and freedoms & keep you dependant on them ie Government. They claim to want to help the poor, destitute instead they want to keep the poor poorer so that they will keep voting for Liberals, Democrats and Socialists.

    Liberals & Democrats want you to be poor because they know if you work hard and become rich and be self-reliant they will not vote for liberals or Democrats.

    The problem with Socialism is that it leads to suffering and cruelty. And in universal health care, its poor people who will suffer as a consequence. Despite what Liberals love to preach that they are compassionate & care about the disadvantaged in our society. Its all feel- good -factor. Its all horse crap!

    Socialists and liberals are not interested in the CONSEQUENCES of their actions.

    Canada, Britain & Sweden have a medical health service that we as Malaysians should NOT follow. Its the Government that runs its health care & suffer from so many faults that we don’t want to emulate.


    Doctor2008 says: Where are the statistics backing up your claim on the 40m uninsured? I would like to see your solutions to the problem too.

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