I was listening to NPR this morning, and they were talking about the difficulty we’ve had in distributing flu shots. The CDC says that 75% of the country should have a flu shot. Surveys say that 50% are planning to. But how about the vaccines? The NPR story didn’t give all the details, but they did say that doctors give out 70% of the vaccines. But often big companies like WalMart get more of the vaccines. NPR didn’t come out and say it, but I suspect this is because the drug companies make more money when they sell to big pharmacies. I doubt that WalMart pays more than the doctors do, but Walmart is also in the position to buy millions of dollars worth, and pledge to buy millions more of other drugs on the condition that they get the flu vaccines.
Anyway, my point here is that these drug companies are, in effect, deciding who gets a flu vaccine. Never mind that we should have enough for every human being in the country, if not the planet, just because it’s the right thing to do. Let’s pretend for a minute that there’s a legitimate reason we can’t produce enough that doesn’t involve profitability. Who, then, should decide where those vaccines should go? And now we’re back into the argument over health care. Can we assign responsibility to the government to ensure that the country is as healthy as possible? Does every American deserve health care? The answers are “I hope so” and “yes”.
When it comes to health, no one should ever be denied because it’s not profitable. I don’t know how to overcome the problems with “free” health care. I don’t know how to minimize abuse of the system. But we have to figure it out.