The Ithaca Health Fund proceeds systematically to make
preventive and innovative health care more affordable, and to
recapture health insurance premiums for local health purposes.
According to the United Nations, our health system ranks 37th in
the world, far behind first-ranked France and second-ranked Italy.
The main reason for our poor performance is that healthcare here is
seen as a for-profit business. In every other industrialized
country, healthcare is a right delivered through some sort of
national health program.
Activists in Ithaca, NY, have created a local non-profit fund
(think co-op supermarket) to pool money in order to reduce health
costs, support each other, and make healthy living easier. The need
for this arises, they say, from the fact that costs of health
insurance and care rose by half in the last decade. Thousands of
Ithacans have no medical insurance at all, and others have simply
poor coverage, with high deductibles. Their situation is much the
same as the rest of the country — 44 million Americans have no
health coverage. But as national health coverage is consistently
looked upon with disfavor, by members of congress and the industry
which lines their pockets with our cash, Ithacans have taken to a
grass-roots plan in hopes that it will grow throughout the
Members pay as little as $100 per year for limited coverage for
catastrophic care and emergency services. However, as membership
grows, coverage expands. What’s more, members need not pay merely
in dollars. They can also pay in community service hours, home
visit credits and barter. Further, the plan allows for independence
among members, lending credence to naturopathic and homeopathic
remedies which have proved useful in the past.
Above all, the plan is an affront to a system which uses 52% of
the budget for military spending (past wars and war debt, plus
present spending) while health receives a mere 16%. The Ithaca
Health Fund is not just insurance, but a collective challenge to a
collective (un)consciousness that has left many of us broke, and
— Adam Overland
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