February 16, 2016
By Maggie Angel
The name Martin Shkreli can make anyone cringe. Mr. Shkreli became infamous when he came to be the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals and, literally overnight, increased the price of Daraprim, a lifesaving medication, from $13.50 to $750, just because he felt like it.
His complete lack of empathy took the country by storm and caused a wave of criticism. Fortunately, his reign did not last long and Shkreli was arrested for fraud charges from back when he was the manager of hedge funds. He was brought to testify before Congress at the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in January 2016 to speak on pricing in the drug industry. He was questioned by several members of Congress and seemed pretty oblivious to the impact of his actions. His smirk and tweets calling the congressmen “imbeciles” are a spit in the face to the United States.
This shows how ridiculous the cost of healthcare is in the United States. One man can drastically manipulate a whole market. The Atlantic reports that Americans will spend approximately 18 percent of the GDP on healthcare, the highest of all industrialized countries. We beat out the Netherlands by one trillion dollars.
Prescription drugs cost twice as much here as they do abroad. On average, a household will spend more than $8,000 on healthcare, which is twice as much as the average industrialized country’s citizen.
The Atlantic claims that these costs are unbelievably high because of the healthcare professionals, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies that increase prices to earn more income. The worst part is that they can do so without any consequences, since they heavily influence policy creation through intensive lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill.
High cost more do not ensure quality. American life expectancy is comparable to that of Chile, which spends considerably less on healthcare. Why should we be subject to the will of these robber baron healthcare giants? Why should we have to literally sacrifice our lives so someone like Martin Shkreli can buy a one of a kind Wu-Tang album and never even listen to it?
People live in fear and pray that they do not get sick, not only for the sake of not wanting to be sick, but so they can actually afford to pay for treatments without losing everything they own.
The Affordable Care Act isn’t doing much in terms of solving the issue of rising healthcare costs. We should recognize that healthcare should not be a luxury, but rather something as accessible as food and water, as it is also necessary for survival.