Wednesday, September 10, 2008
my bid for universal healthcare
Universal healthcare is an issue that is hotly debated in the USA. Michael Moore's film "Sicko" highlighted how common it was to have a disease and not be able to afford the medication. It's a harsh reality. Medicine costs a lot of money.
The most common argument against Universal Healthcare is that it will cost so much in taxes and it will be over used. It will result in long waiting lists and people with life threatening illnesses will die waiting for treatment.
I live in a system where healthcare is "universal". I also live in a system that has health insurance. The idea of the system is this: people who can afford to have health care coverage do and those who can't allow the government to pay for it. You might at first think that the people at the bottom get all the benefits, while those at the top pay for them, but it isn't entirely the case. Those with insurance are admitted into private hospitals or clinics that have a much shorter waiting list. Those who have the free benefits have a much longer waiting list. Their position on that list is entirely related to how desperate their need is. If they have a life threatening condition, they are bumped to the front of the queue. If it is painful but not life threatening, they may have a while to wait unless they have private healthcare.
For those who have insurance the benefits are not simply that they have a shorter waiting period, but that their health providers are encouraged to pay. If the insurance companies don't pay for things, their customers would likely drop health cover and go back to the government supported system. The government doesn't want this to happen because it is already a crowded system. Plus, the insurance companies don't want to lose clients. All this leads to insurance companies paying for what they advertise they will pay for.
While our government supported healthcare is still overcrowded, I feel that this is the most socially conscious system I've seen. It supports those who by a variety of means can not support themselves, and still rewards and encourages those who can. I sincerely hope that this becomes part of the American way of life in the future.