The Collegian
Monday, April 15, 2024

Letter: Health care: the 'right' solution

In recent weeks, the debate over health care has grown fierce, but, unfortunately, extremely petty. Whether it is the claim that old people will be euthanized if it is too expensive to keep them alive or that a public option will prevent people from receiving life-saving medical procedures, the lies and smears spread by the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies have muddled the facts about health care reform. Even more unfortunate is the obvious truth that the politics of fear is again finding traction among many conservatives. So let's look at the facts.

One popular argument against health care reform is the idea that it will decrease medical quality and efficiency, and the "world's best health care system" will become nothing better than that of a Third World country.

Fact: America's health care system is already worse than those of some third world countries. According to the World Health Organization, the United States' health care system ranks 37th in the world, right behind health care systems in Saudi Arabia, Colombia and Costa Rica. So let's get this straight: the average American family pays more than $400 a month for health insurance. Fifteen percent of the national GDP is spent on health care, but yet as a country, we rank 45th overall in life expectancy and 50 million Americans don't even have insurance. This is the system Republicans want to maintain? Even more, even if you are insured, insurance companies still only pay about 80 percent of a patient's costs after premiums and deductibles. Often, "pre-existing conditions" are not covered at all by insurance!

Let's face it: health insurance companies are blood-sucking vampires that prey on human suffering. Health care and profit simply don't mix.

With this said, however, the health care reform currently floating around on Capitol Hill really isn't all that revolutionary. It still allows insurance companies and pharmaceuticals to turn extraordinary profits, it allows every American to choose his or her own doctor and medical options and it does not require any American to purchase insurance from the government or from the private sector against his or her will. The goal of the plan, simply, is to make insurance accessible for those who can't afford it: small business owners, blue collar workers and the shrinking middle class.

The second popular argument against health care is that it will wreck the U.S. economy and churn up massive deficits.

Fact: if the health care system is not changed, the country will go bankrupt. The current health care system, if left alone, will rise to more than 20 percent of the GDP by the year 2017. The only option is reform, unless, of course, we want deductibles and premiums to continue rising while millions of Americans die from avoidable illnesses. The plan in Congress, albeit expensive, would prevent health care from ever reaching this percentage of GDP, and don't forget, Americans would actually have health insurance.

Republicans like to turn the health care debate into an draconian dilemma between some people not being insured and the end of capitalism and the American way as we know it. But not all the blame should go to the Republicans; Democrats, elected to an super-majority in the House and the Senate, are folding like a house of cards. And let's be honest, their opponents on the right are pathetic. If the Democrats can't cut through the Republican blockage now, when the only counter to reform Republicans have is labeling it as socialism, then I'm afraid true reform will not be right around the corner.

Daniel Colosimo

Richmond College, 2011

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