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On Dec. 12, much of the world will celebrate Universal Health Coverage Day. The intent of this day is to focus attention on the steadily growing movement to provide everyone access to quality, affordable health care.

There is irony at play here, in that many of the countries celebrating, including all of the industrialized democracies, already have some form of universal health care. The form varies considerably from country to country, but not the intent: anyone who is ill or suspects they are ill, and anyone unlucky enough to be involved in an accident, can seek medical care without fear of ruinous cost.

Sadly, there is one industrialized democracy that has failed to reach this goal. We live in it. Saddest of all is that there is nothing preventing our reaching this goal except for the will to do so. The money is there. Even the structure is largely there if we choose to reach the goal through the expansion of the Medicare model to everyone.

Let us hope that not too many more years will pass before we, too, can celebrate Universal Health Care Day secure in the knowledge that the people of this country enjoy the health, security, and peace of mind that flow from universal access to health care.

Marc Betz

Corvallis (Dec. 3)

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