Let’s Put Rice Bowls in Plastic Surgeons’ Offices

When I was little, we had a rice bowl that Sister Donald gave us during Lent to put money in.  The idea is that we would give up a luxury in our life and every time we would normally buy it during lent, we would put that money in the rice bowl.  The money would then be offered up to the children of Ethiopia. 
My vice was Funions.  I loved going to the deli and snatching up a bag of those delightful deep-fried onion-salt-dusted Styrofoam rings.  Once a day during lent I would go without those onion-resembling treats and and put $.50 in my rice bowl.  By the end of lent I would have almost twenty dollars to buy rice for those starving children.

Many people ceased caring about the Ethiopian Children once it was realized that a large percentage of the rice bowl money was going to logistical fees and celebrity endorsements leaving very little for the starving children.  My new interest is universal health care.  Obviously one problem with universal health care is making sure that the government does its job regulating it and serving the people.  The other problem would be the cost of establishing such a program.  Ratical.com estimates that to provide supervision, regular retraining, infrastructure support, basic medical supplies and salaries for a viable universal health-care solution for Americans would cost about $15 billion per year. 

I have trouble wrapping my head around large numbers, so let’s pick something to compare it to.  Something at random.  How about cosmetics?  Americans spend $8 billion a year* on cosmetics.  That gives me a point of reference.  The cost of a universal health care system would be twice as much as Americans spend on cosmetics every year.  To dovetail onto cosmetics, it just happens that the cost of elective corrective surgery accounts for the $7 billion* per year, which would again be roughly half.
This means if each American had a rice bowl and put their cosmetics and plastic surgery money into it instead of making themselves more beautiful, we would have enough for every man woman and child in this country to have free health-care.  No American would go without health care ever again…something that every other industrial nation in the world already has. 

Okay, I don’t expect Sister Donald to start passing out rice bowls to every person in America that puts on make up or has plastic surgery, but if we put a 100% luxury tax on cosmetics and elective cosmetic surgery that alone would pay for universal health care for all Americans.

Of course that’s easy for me to say as I don’t use make-up or cosmetic surgery, but challenge me.  Pick an multi-billion dollar industry that you think I use to excess and see if I’d be willing to pay double what I do now for universal health care.  I’d pay double for my morning coffee every day if I could see a doctor for free.  I’d pay double for my phone bill if I could have free prescription drugs.  I’d pay double any time I bought electronics if I knew that if I ever inherited my mom’s, grandfather’s, or uncle’s cancer that I would be treated without being a financial burden on my wife.

It’s not that I’m not willing to pay for health care, but even with insurance it’s still terrifying to get sick. 

Universal health care is one solution that works for the rest of the world. 
Perhaps a more American thing would be to regulate health care so that insurance companies would be required to treat those people that the ensure.
…but I’m still fond of putting out rice bowls at plastic surgeon’s offices.

*Watson, Jonathan. Health Care Systems: Rethinking health care systems. 2005
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