Health Care – We Have Options

Written By: Kelly Opdycke
(Editor, KO Zine)

Health care. All of us are probably tired of hearing about it by now. The problem is that most Americans only take the time to access mainstream media and they tend to focus less on the type of health care we may or may not be getting and more on the government and the politics among its members. A high percentage of the population is left with a whole lot of drama and no hard data to show for it.

Should the Democrats achieve some sort of health care reform, it would be the most significant domestic legislation since the Social Security Act of 1935 developed by Franklin D. Roosevelt. This piece of legislation gave the Democrats the majority in the House for a generation. Republicans, despite what the majority of Americans want, are doing their best to stop huge reform from happening.

With little to show of a health care solution on their end, a bipartisan bill introduced in 2007 by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) has received Republican support. The bill would require Americans to purchase insurance through their employers and does not include a public option. I guess those who are unemployed or freelancers are on their own.
The solution that everyone is too afraid to push for, is single-payer health care. Originally, it seemed as if the Obama administration backed this, but as the health care debate evolves they have backed off tremendously. Some say the reason for this timidity is that Americans automatically link single-payer with socialism.

Single-payer involves payment to doctors and hospitals from a public fund. Private insurers would no longer exist, allowing for more equal coverage throughout the population. No more worrying about which doctors or hospitals you can and can’t go to. Wherever you are, if you need medical attention, you’ll get it. And the government pays, not you.

What many do not realize is that a fully-functioning, single-payer system already exists for US veterans. Veterans receive the best medical attention possible and most would agree that all other Americans deserve the same. This system has shown private insurers do not have to be the answer.

According to the World Health Organization, the US ranks 37th among health care systems in the world. While it’s not always right to follow the leader, when it comes to health care whatever the US is doing does not work. Drastic change may be scary for some, but without it quality of life and life expectancy will only get worse. If you look at the 36 countries that outrank the US, you’ll see that most have some sort of universal coverage.

A public option is ideal, but it’s not a quick fix. The cost of health care must be controlled. While estimates vary, something like $1.3 trillion is spent per year on health care in the US. Even the most head-in-the-clouds idealist doesn’t believe that the US economy can support this. The cost of health care, especially pharmaceuticals, must decrease. Negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies and the Obama administration are underway, but there are conflicting reports on how successful said meetings are so far.

The healthcare plan currently being discussed offers an opportunity to buy a public insurance plan, but private insurers will also be in the picture. So, basically, the more money you have the better the coverage you receive. But I guess that’s the American way.

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