Hardly a day passes when the topic of health care reform does not make the news. Clearly many of us want major reform and we are tired of waiting, but what is it, exactly, that we want?
At one end of the spectrum, there are those who believe that our health care system is adequate and that the free-market will naturally adjust for any minor flaws. Small comfort if you are currently uninsured, or if you happen to live with a chronic illness. More than 46 million uninsured and millions more underinsured tells a tale, if one is willing to listen.
At the other end is a single-payer system as proposed by the 110th Congress, the United States National Health Insurance Act (or the expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act – HR 676 would provide for comprehensive health insurance coverage for all United States residents. Sometimes branded as “socialism,” the bill was reintroduced in the House on January 26, 2009 and has 72 co-sponsors in the 111th Congress as of this writing. Justified or not, the thought of universal health care instills a certain amount of fear in a lot of people.
Assuming that the status quo is not an option and that opposition to universal health care will keep it stalled for the time being, SOMETHING has to be done to improve affordability and access to health care for all.
Why are there so many uninsured in the first place? Do they simply choose not to elect coverage? Or is it the escalating cost of basic health care, co-pays, and deductibles… maybe the fact that group coverage is tied to employment… the cost of COBRA coverage… denial of insurance due to pre-existing conditions… states that lack high-risk pools… Sometimes it’s just a snowball effect. Lose the job, lose the insurance and come face-to-face with unaffordable COBRA or individual coverage.
Who are the under-insured? Some have only catastrophic coverage. Some have premiums and deductibles so high that they can’t afford to use it. Generally they are the folks who have health problems that go untreated.
These are all aspects of our health care system that need to be addressed. If not with a single-payer system, then with some reasonable alternatives for those who are falling through the cracks of the current system. The division between the health care haves and the health care have-nots is widening… and that can’t be a good thing.
Please take a moment to answer the poll below: Should the United States move toward a single-payer system?
If your answer is no, please tell us how you believe these problems should be addressed, if at all. What does health care reform mean to you?