“You might be well off materially but feel continually stressed out or as though your life lacks purpose or meaning. Or you might be poor, and angry at your inability to give your children what marketers say they “gotta have” to fit in. You might have just watched bulldozers destroy the only open space left around your community-to make room for row upon row of identical tract homes with three-car garages. If you’re elderly, you may have noticed your children’s inability to balance their checkbooks, and you may worry for their children. If you’re young, you may be anxious about your own future”. (de Graaf et. al, p.54)
American society, having been afflicted by ‘Affluenza’ has dealt a blow for citizens in the low socio-economic bracket, who find it difficult to fulfill even their basic needs, including healthcare. The United States of America, in spite of being an economic superpower also carries the notoriety for exorbitant healthcare costs and disproportionately poor health outcomes for patients. At present health insurance coverage of American citizens is covered by their employers, which exposes them to the twin dangers of losing health insurance along with losing their jobs (de Graaf et. al, p.102). To place this assessment in the context of the present global economic recession, the country has seen unprecedented numbers of job losses in the last few months. Not since the Great Depression of the 1930s did the nation confront such a disaster. It is true that a comprehensive revamp of the healthcare system at a time of economic turmoil is not practically feasible. But research conducted by the Commonwealth Fund indicates that extending insurance coverage to all American citizens would only cost an additional $104 billion for the federal government. While this may seem a huge sum in isolation, it is significantly smaller compared when seen in the context of the broader budgetary framework. The authors further point out that this $104 billion proposal for universal health insurance coverage would have the added benefit of stimulating the economy as well. And more importantly, by virtue of being applicable across social, economic and racial divisions, the plan would not favor a particular community or class but promote equality. It would also serve to mitigate the adverse economic effects of ‘Affluenza’ already suffered by America’s bottom quartile of population.
John de Graaf, David Wann & Thomas H. Naylor, Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, ISBN 978-1-57675-357-6.