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Former UN chief urges US leaders to enact publicly-financed healthcare as 'human right'

Former UN chief urges US leaders to enact publicly-financed healthcare as 'human right'

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has denounced the US healthcare system as politically and morally wrong, and urged American leaders to enact publicly-financed healthcare as a "human right".

Ban made the comments on Monday in an exclusive interview with the Guardian in New York, as part of his work with The Elders, a group founded by the late anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela to work on issues of global importance, including universal health coverage.

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.

The UK, in comparison, spends a little under 10 percent of the GDP, according to the latest available statistics, and health care is free at the point of delivery.

"It's not easy to understand why such a country like the US, the most resourceful and richest country in the world, does not introduce universal health coverage," said Ban.

"Nobody would understand why almost 30 million people are not covered by insurance."

Failing to provide health coverage, he said, was "unethical" and "politically wrong, morally wrong".

He accused the "powerful" interests of pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and doctors that "inhibit the American government" of moving towards universal healthcare.

"This is for the people. Leaders are elected because they vowed that they would work for the people," Ban told the Guardian.

"They are abandoning people because they are poor, then these poor people cannot find a proper medical support."

Despite astronomical spending on health, millions in the US live entirely outside the health system, uninsured and unable to go to the doctor without incurring hundreds or thousands of dollars in debt.

Since President Donald Trump was elected, an additional 4 million people have lost health coverage, according to a recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund.

Health coverage has become a major issue ahead of the Congressional midterm elections in November, which are widely seen as a referendum on Trump's America.

Progressive Democrats have called for Congress to enact "Medicare-for-all", a proposal to expand the public health programme which covers all Americans older than 65.

Establishment Democrats have argued for the expansion of Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.



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