The Health Care System in the U.S.

When we think of the United States, we think of the richest, most powerful country in the world. Yet, health care is not readily available to the people that live within this country. At a time when health care levels are increasing, so are our diseases. Many people look down upon the United States for still having private health care whereas in Canada there is a national health care system. While most Americans in the middle to upper class have little to worry about since they probably have medical insurance, it is those of the lower classes that are tossed to the side.

Even if Medicare covers people, it is argued that even they are not getting the level of coverage that they need since some basic services are not covered by their insurance. The U. S. National Academy of Sciences summarized its overview of U. S. health care: “The health-care delivery system is incapable of meeting the present, let alone the future, needs of the American public. ” It is a staggering number to see that over 41 million Americans are currently without health care. We see that if people of the middle class are starting to lose their insurance, what about those of the lower classes.

Also, some employers are starting to deny medical insurance to employees. They’ve found ways of avoiding paying them benefits, large manufacturers hire large numbers of temporary workers to fill their work force. These “temp” workers are not entitled to the benefits of the company since they are considered outside contractors, and the temp agencies obviously do not want to lose money towards these workers by insuring them. Children that are not getting the medical attention they need will have more cases of illnesses than those that have ready access.

With an increase in illness these children are forced to miss more school than the average student. The people that need medical attention most are being denied, the children of our society, and the older individuals. Children need to have proper medical attention available to them, yet some go uninsured. Doctors are becoming less likely to treat the poor and uninsured, so what are they to do. For those that do not qualify for Medicaid the situation seems hopeless. Even those that do have Medicaid are starting to see a drop in their coverage giving them something to worry about.

Although the drops of service are small now we can only view this action as a threat to the service as a whole. It is amazing that the United States government is willing to spend a billion dollars a day to invade Iraq, yet cannot find the funds available to intervene into medical issues. The media has not been completely forthcoming its efforts to root out the problems. There is a simple explanation for the media’s collective unwillingness to present the Canadian system fairly. On June 28, 1991, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 69 percent of Americans would support a Canadian-style system, while only 20 percent were opposed.

The same 69 percent said they were willing to pay higher taxes for a system that guaranteed the best available health care for everyone. The insurance industry launched a multi-million-dollar campaign to discredit Canada’s system. While media solemnly took note of the industry’s influence over our political leaders, achieved via campaign contributions, it failed to report on the industry’s public relations war effectively. Obviously the insurance companies of the United States do not want a reform of this magnitude, as they would lose their hold on their current profits.

So, it would be safe to assume that they would be willing to cover up such key information as the voter’s desires for a national health care system over private insurance. The government is not doing all that much either, they are calling for managed care which they are putting as the end-all, and if that is not to work. Some argue that any administration in power could simply put together a group to “study” this problem for later review, thereby doing nothing. Health care did not always look like this.

In the 1930’s health care was actually affordable, even still some groups such as Kaiser Permanente offered prepaid medical assistance for construction workers. These were not-for-profit ideals that would quickly see their demise. Few Americans had access to these programs up to the 1960’s and they faced a host of legal problems from the government and from doctors as the medical community preferred the traditional fee-for-service deals. By the 1970’s medical costs were rising faster than the economy, which was stifled by rising inflation, and fee-for-service plans were seen as part of the problem.

In 1973, the Nixon administration proposed and passed the Health Maintenance Assistance Organization Act, which coined the term HMO. This act required that a business that had more than 25 employees had to provide health care for its employees if it provided insurance at all. These HMOs were given federal money for startup costs along with a certification process for them to qualify. Right now the United States has the largest amount of health care spending in the world, almost 13. 5 percent of the gross national budget.

In the 1970’s only about 5 percent of Americans were enrolled in prepaid managed care, by the 1980’s that enrolment increased 400 percent from nine million in 1980 to 36 million in 1990. By 1996, that number nearly tripled, to 74 percent. Now most people are enrolled in for-profit HMOs such as Cigna and Aetna. These represent the majority of HMOs. It would seem obvious that a national health care system could only reduce the costs and majority of people in the U. S. have agreed that they would not mind an increase in taxes if medical programs were made available to everyone.

Although the current Bush administration is not willing to commit to a large health care reform such as that of a national health care policy, they have also been reluctant to make any major changes to the current. During the last congressional vote, some of the main issues that they devised were not passed such as medical coverage for generic medicines, and larger subsidies for children’s insurance and HMOs. They did however manage to get prescription drug coverage for the elderly and tax credits for HMOs. Most of the economic agenda was placed on the current economy and national security.

Even while more people in the U. S. will die of hunger than of possible terrorist attack, national security has taken the floor. Almost 41 million people are left uninsured and congress has taken the road of the pacifist. The last time that congress met, there was almost a compromise made that would provide health care for children of families that were relatively poor and who could not afford health care. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was approved and signed off by all 50 governors, and seemed to be the compromise that both sides were looking for.

It would not increase government spending but would rather use any money that states would have returned to the national treasury. At 12:30 AM as the last day that the house would meet the bill came to the attention of House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle, who quickly defeated it. In fact, health care proponents had to fight a proposed four percent decreases in payments made to physicians from Medicare. These people are our retired, elderly and yet even their coverage is coming under attack. What are they to do, go back to work?

In order to qualify for Medicare people have to be 65 years of age or older, who gets to tell them that they have to go back to work at this age to pay for their medical bills? Most bills that went to the house were indeed the work of the Republicans as they catered to the middle to upper classes more than to the lower. One example was that of middle class parents with disabled children would still qualify for Medicaid, yet the people of the lower class would see no benefit to this. Not for profit HMOs are showing that they will intend to raise their premiums in the next year and some will drop prescription drug coverage as a whole.

These programs intended to be the low cost alternative to high priced medical insurance are now becoming that in themselves. There are also going to be sharp increases in the cost of radiation therapy and chemotherapy across the board. Aetna even declared that in 2003 hospital visit costs would increase from $250per admission to $840. The only step in the right direction seems to be in Oregon, there the government has proposed a universal health plan that would cover all medical needs right down to acupuncture and massage therapy.

In private polling the people of the state have said that they would not object to increases in taxes that would come with this new system, but are very excited about the possibilities that it would poses. With the current state of health care a major controversy these people see the only way out as being that of a national health care system. If this pan is successful it could put under fire the current state of affairs within the U. S. In the next ten years we could see the implementation of a system similar to the Canadians where even cosmetic surgery will be covered by this national insurance.

Image a day in which the lower class as well as the upper could have the option of liposuction. With so many poor in the country in need of medical insurance we see what could be the savior of the entire system. Although a change such as this would not stand a chance of being approved nationally, many believe that once it is accepted on the state level, other states would see the success and adapt to it. “It would take more to get a hunting license in Oregon than it would take to get access to full health benefits,” said the NFIB’s Wilson.

Some argue that people who would not ordinarily have insurance would be a drain on the economy since they are more likely to let small problems slip by until they become larger problems and require large scale surgery, meaning far more expensive procedures. The response to that was that once these people had insurance, they would immediately see doctors causing an initial drain yet would later be far more inclined to seek care at the onset of symptoms. This program does have the threat of destroying the economy of Oregon, yet they are willing to chance as they see the real need for a public health care system available to everyone.

Even if this system works, it would take the compromising powers of both the Republicans and Democrats to pass a bill of this magnitude nation wide. Most likely individual states would enact their own examples long before a national plan is constructed. Although once the results are in that they are working we could see this work nation wide. As much as private insurance would like us to stay with them and promote their profits their must come a day in which everyone will be allowed access to all medical insurance.

The plan is being conducted in the best way possible, since it is very experimental; the areas of coverage have been left vague to allow for a panel of 15 persons to decide upon individual cases as necessary. In a time where doctors are refusing Medicare patients and the elderly are not able to get their prescription drugs something must be done. If the world power is not able to provide medical coverage for its own citizens then what will the world come to. The current state of affairs has come from our very system of checks and balances.

Most of the bills that would be sent through to help are being stalled or shot down in the house or in congress. SO, if we are not able to pass said bills to revive the current system then maybe it is time to construct a new system. When many world leaders have a national insurance I think its time that we considered one ourselves. Even our ally, the U. K. has medical coverage for all of its citizens. Even though many of complain of higher taxes due to this system they never have to worry about not being able to see a doctor. I view this idea of a national insurance as something that I would be able to let work and not have to worry about.