Germany began the first public health insurance system under Otto von Bismarck in the late 1800s. These “sickness funds” were initially intended to provide care for low income workers. Over time they expanded to include the entire population.
Other European countries picked up on the idea that a healthy populace meant workers who would be more productive and use less sick time. The society as a whole would benefit from greater general health.
Thom Hartman wrote today about Public Education and the Common Good. In his essay he explains how America decided that an educated populace would mean a stronger nation. Thomas Jefferson suggested that a free public education be provided to a group of citizens who would become wiser leaders for our fledgling democracy. The reasoning became that a better educated population would make better decisions for their country.
European nations came to the idea of public education a bit later than the US. Why has the US not caught up with European nations to see that universal health care is just as vital to the nation as public education. The common good is vastly improved by supporting health care for all. In the same manner that public education supports a healthy democracy, public health care is an enormous boost to the strength of a nation. Healthy citizens are more productive at work, are not distracted by illness, and take less sick time.
Not to mention that healthcare is a human right. It is time for the US to wake up and provide universal single-payer non-profit health care to all its residents. That would be a tremendous boost to the common good.