Why exactly is Healthcare so expensive in the United States and what does racism have to do with it?
It all started with Bismarck, yes, that Bismarck, as in “The Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898), who between 1862 and 1890 effectively ruled first Prussia and then all of the German Empire. The model for today’s health insurance systems was Otto von Bismarck’s compulsory single parent, national health insurance, introduced in the German Empire in 1884.
By extending access to healthcare, Bismarck’s health insurance significantly reduced mortality rates for blue-collar workers, probably by increasing the public’s knowledge about communicable disease transmission. This supports theories about the fundamental role of hygiene in reduced mortality from that time onwards.
At about that time, a very clever man, who was born in Germany and travelled to the United States, one Frederick Ludwig Hoffman a brilliant statistician and basically a savant, started working for the largest insurance company in the world, the Prudential Insurance Company of America.
He demonstrated great foresight on some public health issues, but his work in some areas was biased by his scientific racist views. In 1896, Hoffman wrote a book called, “The Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro,” his findings from a “health census” conducted on the African Americans in the South.
In his book, Hoffman’s first, characterized African Americans as “genetically inferior,” lacking the “genetic vitality of white people” and “exceptionally disease-prone,” that’s why they were dying in such large numbers. The white race, of course, being the “pinnacle of evolution!” This drove him to conclude that given sufficient time, (he hoped so) natural diseases will eventually kill off the black races.
In other words, if “we deny them healthcare for a couple of generations, they will die out,” thus we would’ve “solved the race problem,” The work was motivated by a “concern about “issues of race,” and also the need of insurance companies to justify the higher life insurance premiums charged to African Americans.
Hoffman’s work was massively influential and became conventional wisdom for more than 50-years, and so was born the seeds of a chaotic, genocidal for profit only US healthcare system.
In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt first proposed a national single parent healthcare system, based on the Bismarck model, and what do you think the outcry was? The response he received from both parties was, “but if black people get better healthcare, they won’t die out.”
In 1936, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed a single parent healthcare system, also based on the German model, what do you think the outcry was? …………………………Rinse and repeat comrades.
In 1947, when Harry Truman proposed a single parent healthcare system based on the German model……………….……………………………….…Rinse and repeat comrades..
In 1961, when John Kennedy proposed a single parent healthcare system? By now you should know what the predictable response were comrades!
Again, in 1965, when Linden B, Johnson proposed the same thing, Medicare for all paid for 100% by the government? The Southern states senators suggested that if they place a threshold on black people in the system, that makes it difficult for them to receive full healthcare benefits, and, we don’t want that people to be at our all white hospitals…………………………………….Rinse and repeat comrades….
And again in 1983, when Ronald Reagan stopped enforcing the Sherman anti-trust act and other anti-trust legislation, America went from having a few hundred health insurance companies to only a few dozen today, that are so rich, they average a billion dollars a week in net profit. The net (pun intended) results are that Americans pay at least 20% more for the same healthcare services compared to other developed countries and have a higher infant mortality rate, comparable to so-called, “third world” countries.
Next to the giant energy sector, the military industrial, congressional complex, health insurance and “Big Pharma” have the largest teams of lobbyists, marketing and PR firms on their books.
In fact, the US Congress has a “special” permanent subcommittee on lobbyists, but none for food security, healthcare, climate change and so on folks….
So What Exactly is the Lesson for White People here?
White supremacy and white privilege, whilst benefitting you in the short-term, ultimately makes you comparatively poorer in the long run, in relative terms.
“The antidote to white fragility is ongoing and lifelong and includes sustained engagement, humility, and education” -Robin Di Angelo