Pause For Thought

There’s been a plan in Indonesia since 2008 called Jamkesmas which has covered health care for over 76 million poor Indonesians. Last fall the Indonesia parliament enacted a law providing health care for 240 million citizens as of January 2014. Part of that law also provides a system of death benefits, pensions and worker’s comp insurance to be in place by mid 2015. In the Philippines 85% of the people have health coverage provided by a government program called PhilHealth. In China a rural health insurance plan now covers 97.5% of the people. Its National Audit Office declared recently that its social security system was what it called “basically” in place. India has a kind of basic health coverage for 110 million, maybe not much given the country’s population, but as an article in the Economist magazine pointed out, more than twice the number of uninsured Americans. India also expanded its job guarantee program to every rural district, promising 100 days of minimum work per year to any household requesting it. The list of countries which are enacting health care coverage and creating social safety nets keeps increasing. While it is still an open question whether these programs will create huge debts or substantially diminish dire poverty, it is also true that these countries are courageous in doing something which the United States, the great and mighty power, is still ambivalent on and currently stridently arguing about. It does give one pause for thought.