The impetus for this post comes from a discussion on the topic over at 20SB that was started by Heather over at A lust for Words. Also of note, I wrote this post yesterday and held it for today, just because. Much of the text is is the same as the response that I posted in the discussion linked to above.
By now I would imagine that most Americans know that the Health Care Reform bill was passed. The question on most people’s minds seems to be: “Is this a good thing?” While I am pretty sure that this bill does not fix all the issues in the current system I do think that it is a step in the right direction. It is unfortunate that we have not made the dramatic changes that really need to be made (like just throwing out the current system all together), but maybe we will get there eventually.
People are concerned with a number of things that this bill may effect. One being the drive for medical students to become general practitioners going away. Why? Well, as with all things American, money. Heaven forbid our doctors can’t have their second homes and sailboats. Another concern is the cost to the public. Isn’t that cost worth your health though? It has to be less than needing to go to the doctor when you don’t have insurance.
We, as Americans, have dug ourselves into this hole. Healthcare is expensive because of the insurance companies. Doctors and hospitals make lots of money because they know that the people are not paying for it, the insurance companies are. In some cases there are clear double standards where the people who are uninsured get larger bills than the people who are insured for the same procedures. It will ultimately cost you more to go without insurance if you ever need serious medical treatment that it would to buy government subsidized insurance. Of all the things that my tax dollars could be used for, keeping people healthy seems to be on of the better choices. Certainly better than fighting pointless overseas wars simply on the basis that the USA has a bigger penis.
The real question is this: “Why are we so resistant to actually changing to a universal health care model?” I mean seriously, it seems to work very well in the countries that do. Would it really be so bad to kill off some of the insurance companies and HMOs who are guilty of creating the issues that plague the system now? I suppose one of the questions is whether people in this country think of health care as a right or a privilege. Frankly I think that people should have the right to lead a healthy life no matter what their financial status.
Reforms like this have some of the same principles as the health care benefits offered by many of this nation’s [labor] unions. Many unions offer a health care pool, every member of the union pays in X% each month and is therefore covered. Every member pays the same percentage no matter how many jobs they are working or how much money they make. On the flip side though, a member of the union cannot forego the union coverage in favor of private insurance even if the private insurance is better coverage and cheaper because of the obligation to the other members of the union and the communal pool. So, the union would let you get private insurance as long as you still paid your insurance percentage to the union pool. As I understand it, this is pretty similar to how most universal health systems work, you can elect to get private coverage to make up the deficit in what the government covers, but you are still required to pay into the communal pool.
I happen to have been lucky in that I got a job that has great benefits, but I see many of my friends who are worried about getting even the slightest bit sick because they can’t afford to see a doctor let alone buy a prescription drug if they needed to. How is this OK?
If you don’t currently carry insurance, what value do you place on your health? Without insurance I would imagine you probably don’t regularly visit the doctor or go to the dentist. So, is your health only worth something to you when you are ill or injured?
As a member of the 20SB community I think that it is important to recognize that this reform does a lot for the twenty-somethings who are in college or just trying to star making it on their own. It mandates that non-dependent children can continue to be covered under their parent’s health care plans until the age of 26, which is three more years than currently available. This is a great thing for people, especially right now when it is hard to find a good job with good benefits.
So where does this leave us? The system is still not perfect. In the end it sounds like it won’t really affect people like me who have good coverage at a decent price already. Some argue that the people on the low end of the totem-pole may be “tricked” into thinking they are covered for things that they are not, but maybe a little education for such people would be in order. In fact I am sure that a little education for the American populace as a whole on the subject of health care would be a good thing. I believe that most Americans blindly stumble through life in this country without really having an understand of what is going on. I probably fall into that category myself every now and then.
It may not be the best step or the best foot forward, but it is a step in the right direction I think. Change can’t happen overnight, we are probably one of the most stubborn nations on the planet. It is that stubborn-ness that founded this country in the first place. I suppose we shall have to see how it goes and if we continue to make some progress.