Posted by mattieliz on March 16, 2009
“The very first promise I made on this campaign was that as president, I will sign a universal health care plan into law by the end of my first term in office.” – Senator Barack Obama, May 29, 2007
With that said, Mr. President Obama has his eye on the ball and will stop at nothing to get this done. Let’s face it—if universal health care was easy to solve, we would have it by now, but unfortunately, there are so many hoops to jump through because it’s a very complicated and controversial issue. Managing health care through the trenches of Congress, the old ideological fights left over from the Truman, Johnson, and Clinton days, and the fact that major insurance and pharmaceutical companies are making big bucks off America’s broken system and sending lobbyists to Washington every day to beg Congress not to pass this bill, Obama is going to have a tough time with this issue. It’s no lie that the number of uninsured citizens is growing to nearly 50 million and the cost of health care is increasingly getting worse for business owners and individuals. Why is it that the United States is one of the wealthiest and one of the most industrialized countries in the world, yet our government still does not provide universal health care to all Americans?
Many people agree that this country needs universal health care for various reasons, however, not everyone feels the same way about this topic. Of course, there are negatives that come with the positives of this issue and vice versa.
- POSITIVES of universal health care:
- The number of uninsured citizens has grown to over 40 million
- Health care is increasingly more expensive for business owners and individuals
- Medical professionals can concentrate on healing the patient rather than on insurance procedures, malpractice liability, etc.
- We can eliminate wasteful inefficiencies such as duplicate paper work, claim approval, insurance submission, etc.
- We can develop a centralized national database which makes diagnosis and treatment easier for doctors
- Free medical services would encourage patients to practice preventive medicine and inquire about problems early when treatment will be light; currently, patients often avoid physicals and other preventive measures because of the costs
- NEGATIVES of universal health care:
- “Free” health care isn’t really free since we must pay for it with taxes; expenses for health care would have to be paid for with higher taxes or spending cuts in other areas such as defense, education, etc.
- Patients aren’t likely to curb their drug costs and doctor visits if health care is free; thus, total costs will be several times what they are now
- Government-mandated procedures will likely reduce doctor flexibility and lead to poor patient care
- Healthy people who take care of themselves will have to pay for the burden of those who smoke, are obese, etc.
As I mentioned before, if universal health care was easy to solve, we would have it by now. Unfortunately, there are so many leaps and boundaries with this issue and so many bills to pass through congress. You may be wondering where we are on this issue currently, so here’s a quick rundown of what has happened in the last couple of months in Washington. On Tuesday, February 24th, President Obama addressed both houses of Congress, saying specifically health care reform “cannot wait another year.” On Wednesday, February 25th, the Senate Finance Committee kicked off the formal legislative process by holding a hearing on health care. And on Thursday, February 26th, President Obama released his budget proposal, calling for $634 billion to be set aside for health care reform. President Obama then held a “health care summit” at the White House, where he reiterated his support for health care reform this year.
We all know that other industrialized countries, such as Canada, China, Japan, Australia, Germany, England, and many more are using the universal health care system and have been for many years. According to The World Factbook, the U.S. death rate is 8.27 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.); Canada’s death rate is 7.61 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.); China’s death rate is 7.03 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.); Australia’s death rate is 6.68 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.). As you can see, the U.S. has the highest death rate out of the three other countries listed above, which do have the universal health care system. This all could be coincidence but it seems relevant. If you’ve ever heard that the U.S. has the best health care in the world, that might not be necessarily true, but it definitely costs the most.
Mr. Obama has only been president for about two months now so I don’t expect to see anything major happen right away. Yes, the Obama Administration has already spent more than the Bush Administration did while in office for eight years, however, Obama has great things planned ahead with health care as a top priority and I can only hope that we do see a change for the better while he is in office.
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