Health care an urgent issue for students

Our nation is being ravaged by the health care debate in Congress, and in our living rooms.

The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development charted U.S. healthcare spending as the highest in its member nations at about 16 percent of the GDP, or $7,290 per person. The next highest nation in health care spending is Norway, which sits at 6 percent of the GDP and $4,763 per person.

In other words, Americans receive less care and remain at a standstill in this arena. Meanwhile, other nations in our fiscal neighborhood are advancing further in life expectancy, birth rates and overall health care.

Most of these countries pay less money per person, but their percentage of GDP dedicated to health care is higher.

At 45 percent of public share, the U.S. is neck-and-neck with Mexico, one of the lowest in any country mentioned by OECD. Yet, for this price, the U.S. provides health coverage only for the elderly and some children. There are 2.4 practicing physicians for every 1,000 Americans, while the OECD average is 3.1.

Thirty-five percent of all U.S. health care insurance comes from private insurers that operate through employers and personal insurance policies.

In other countries, citizens receive universal health care at a lower cost. We are receiving Chevy care for Cadillac prices. and that includes those of us who can afford it.

Uninsured adults and children in the U.S. are at an all-time high. Forty-seven million Americans were uninsured in 2006, a year that also saw a 15 percent increase in the amount of uninsured children.

The true crisis in U.S. health care centers on aging baby boomers. The Congressional Budget Office says that although many boomers are well prepared for retirement, many have insufficient funds and are likely to rely on government stipends.

‘About a quarter of baby boomer households have so far failed to accumulate significant savings,’ CBO said in a summary in 2004. ‘They appear likely to depend entirely on government benefits in retirement.’

These folks will qualify for Medicare and Social Security at age 65, placing extra strain on an overburdened system.

The so-called ‘death panels’ – discussions with retirees on end-of-life options – raise new questions: Do they prefer hospice care? Can they cover funerary expenses? These personal questions need to be answered beforehand.

Most college students are far from retirement, but issues of health care are deeply relevant to us. More than ever, women are graduating from college and seeking employment outside the home. Many UH graduates intend to open their own businesses at some point during their careers.’

Universal health care would take the strain off small businesses, which typically pay 18 percent more for health insurance coverage.

‘Less than half of businesses with three to nine workers offer any type of health care coverage, while 99 percent of firms with 200 or more employees offer employer-sponsored insurance,’ Christina Romer and Karen Mills said in a public letter to the Small Business Administration.

Romer is chair of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. Mills is the administrator of the U.S. SBA.’

Health care overhaul is needed to safeguard the economic integrity of our country. Plus, it will save more lives.

Shai Mohammed is an anthropology and communication sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]

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