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Health

Ex-UN Chief Ban Ki-moon Calls Expensive US Health Care 'Morally Wrong'


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Former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon is taking aim at US politicians over the country’s costly health care system.

Ban, who now works with The Elders, a group founded by Nelson Mandela to work on issues of global importance such as universal health coverage, slammed the United States' health care system as politically and morally wrong, and urged leaders to create publicly financed health care as a "human right," reports the Guardian.

Take Action: It’s Time to Deliver on the Promise of Universal Health Coverage

“It’s not easy to understand why such a country like the United States, the most resourceful and richest country in the world, does not introduce universal health coverage,” said Ban in an exclusive interview with the Guardian. “Nobody would understand why almost 30 million people are not covered by insurance.”

Failing to provide health coverage, he continued, was “unethical” and “politically wrong, morally wrong.” Ban accused the “powerful” interests of pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and doctors of inhibiting the US from moving toward universal health care.

“Here, the political interest groups are so, so powerful,” Ban said. “Even [the] president, Congress, senators and representatives of the House — they cannot do much, so they are easily influenced by these special interest groups.”

To wit, the US has the world’s most expensive health system, accounting for nearly one-fifth of American gross domestic product and costing more than $10,348 per American, noted the report.

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And under the current administration, politicians have moved to make health coverage even more exclusive. For example, the Trump administration has allowed some states to add work requirements to public health programs for the poor and people with disabilities.

This is not the first time the system has come under fire.

When President Trump criticized Britain’s health system as part of an attack on Democrats running on universal health care, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt immediately clapped back on Twitter, according to ThinkProgress.

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Hunt acknowledged that a health care rally had recently taken place in London, but corrected the president and said residents in fact wanted more funding for the program, not to dismantle it.

“I may disagree with claims made on that march but not one of them wants to live in a system where 28 [million] people have no cover,” said Hunt, according to Reuters. “NHS may have challenges, but I’m proud to be from the country that invented universal coverage — where all get care no matter the size of their bank balance.”