Minor changes to health care justified; comprehensive overhaul unnecessary
Most of us have heard about the recent health care debate in some form. Whether it is on talk-radio, in a newspaper or even on a blog, there is no escaping the political punditry coming from both sides of Congress.
The underlying issue is simple. We cannot continue on a course that has led the U.S. to such a deplorable state.
Democrats have offered up a solution to this problem: a public health insurance option for those who cannot afford it privately. The government, or more specifically, the American taxpayer, will fund the proposed plan.
Republicans oppose this plan intensely, contending that a public option will lead to a government takeover of health care. They allege that private companies will not be able to compete with an obviously cheaper public plan, and that those companies will be priced out of the game.
However, there is a somewhat different set of statistics to consider in this debate beyond the rhetoric we are bombarded with on a daily basis.
‘The United States ranks 31st in life expectancy (tied with Kuwait and Chile), according to the latest World Health Organization figures. (The U.S. ranks) 37th in infant mortality (partly because of many premature births) and 34th in maternal mortality,’ wrote Nicholas Kristof in a Nov. 4 New York Times article.
Admittedly, these are poor statistics, and’ the U.S.’ can do better.
The article also explained that, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, Americans take 10 percent fewer drugs than citizens of other nations, but pay 118 percent more per pill. The abuses of the pharmaceutical industry are clear and incontrovertible: medicines are exorbitantly overpriced and the side effects are taking a toll on us as a people.
Kristof even said those above the age of 65 generally live longer because they are provided with universal health care: Medicare. Sadly, he failed to even consider the fact that people of that age live significantly different lifestyles than their younger counterparts.
The fact is that the elderly simply do not do the same sorts of things they used to. Americans are in need of a better system, but both sides of the debate must acknowledge the different tendencies we develop as we age.
Our countenance for unhealthy lifestyles, which is the cause for such sub-par statistics among younger people, changes as we know more. The mere fact that those older than 65 benefit from universal health care doesn’t necessarily mean we all will.
The conservative voices have credence when they say government will price out the private industry. It is absolutely unfair to compete with the entities that you set rules for. It screams of an unlevel playing field.
In an ABC News/Washington Post poll of insured Americans, 82 percent rated their health coverage positively. The poll surveyed employer-based insurance beneficiaries, who will almost certainly face a loss of the insurance they highly treasure.
Let’s say that Company ‘A’ allocates 20 percent of its bottom line to provide those options. The current bill requires that companies who do not must pay an 8 percent payroll tax.
It is only logical and predictable that the company will drop the employees’ coverage and just pay the 8 percent, instead of taking a 20 percent hit in an economy that is struggling.
What America desperately needs is a reform of how insurance is regulated rather than a public option that will squash competition instead of spark it.
We need tort reform, to end the frivolous malpractice lawsuits that drive up co-pays at the doctor’s office. We need Congress to stop the insurance companies from dropping patients, after paying months and years of premiums, only to be left out in the cold when they desperately need coverage.
We need Congress to step in and take a look at what we are charged for our prescriptions and take action against abusive pricing schemes. We need Congress to allow insurers to compete against state lines, which will drive down costs faster than any public option will.
We need Congress to stop spending money to correct Wall Street’s recklessness and subsidize – not insure – those who cannot afford insurance. The bureaucracy must end here.
It is bad enough that company executives shortchange Americans when they need their policy. Someone in Washington, D.C., however, will perform no better.
We need true reform, not a ‘Trojan horse for a government takeover of health care,’ as Sen. Minority Whip Jon Kyl describes it.
If we allow the private industry to capitalize and Americans to benefit from being covered, it is a win-win situation. Capitalism is not evil, as some would have us believe. We simply need to reform regulations, and that will make all the difference.
Patrick Levy is a communication freshman and may be reached at [email protected]