The idea that people go without basic health care here in the richest country on earth is appalling; it does not follow, however, that the current health care bill is the answer. I give three reasons:
1. The current health care plan runs over 2,000 pages, and the elected officials who are voting on it really have no clear idea what is contained therein. This is a disturbing trend in our system of policy-making: create a behemoth piece of legislation, and spend the next decade figuring out, in the courts, what it says, while people suffer in the meantime.
2. The current health care plan doesn't even reach its original goal, in that it doesn't even guarantee 100% coverage, so what's the point?.
3. Handing such a large chunk of our economy and well being over to the government makes no sense from a historical perspective. There might be a few areas of collective need where, arguably, the market doesn't work as well as the government (roads and national defense come to mind), but there is no precedent, that I can come up with, where nationalization of a major industry has been a good thing. And even if the exact text of the current plan doesn't explicity call for nationalization of the health care industry, I believe that is undoubtedly where things will end up, even if it takes a generation or two.
As I understand the push to reform health care, it isn't health care that needs reform--it's the delivery system that is currently monopolized by a handful of huge profit-driven private companies. In some states, as many as 95% of the insured are forced to buy coverage from one company, if they are to have any medical insurance at all. The percentage of monies paid out in benefits by private insurance companies is nothing compared to the money collected in premiums. The profit motive that drives private companies pushes continually toward higher premiums and fewer benefits. Americans now have many bureaucrats standing between themselves and their doctors--insurance executives who protect their own bottom lines. The lack of competition leaves the consumer helpless and at their mercy.
The reform bill that passed in the House yesterday does contain a provision to repeal the anti-trust legislation that the insurance industry has enjoyed, and abused, for decades. That is a good thing, but much more is needed to regulate an industry that has become drunk on its own greed and powerful almost beyond imagining. The millions of dollars being spent each day, every day, to derail health care reform shows how much the insurance industry stands to profit if, once again, it goes down to defeat.
In response to #3 - you don't want government to do what individuals themselves can do better. The government should have a monopoly on the use of force, so it's appropriate for it to defend the borders -- that's one of the enumerated responsibilities of the government in the Constitution. Everything else can be more effectively done without government, for the benefit of all. In this case, government's the problem, not the solution. Read on:
In response to #5 -- To describe what's happening in health-care costs is first to go back to the basic economics of supply and demand. The reason supply remains low while demand is high is because of a coercive market legally created by the influence of health insurance lobbyists. If there were true competition, and a level or free market, multiple suppliers of "health" would proliferate and an individual's choices would increase, and the costs would go down. That presumes a direct interaction between consumer and vendor. But in health-care, there's the middleman of insurance who dictates what the consumer can buy, ("your plan doesn't cover that") and what the vendor can sell ("if you diagnose this too often, we'll cut your bonus, doctor.") To maximize profit, the middleman thus artificially keeps supply low while demand remains high. The result is that the poor can't afford insurance, and more and more of us are falling into that category every year. That the healthcare industry, or any industry for that matter, violates market principles is indicative of coercion within the system. The opposite of coercion is freedom. The current coercive system is breaking down, as all coercive systems eventually do; the panic that's causing is making everyone look to the government for help. But governments the reason the coercive market exists in the first place! The purpose of government is to safeguard rights, not provide education, or health, or jobs to its citizenry, but rather to maintain conditions whereby individuals can produce those desired commodities. And the only way those commodities get produced is if people are free to act as they see fit, particularly when it comes to one's own health. Government's tacit acceptence of insurance's influence in healthcare is the root of the problem. In fact, its negligence can be considered criminal, when people die because they can't get care. And yet, people turn to government as if it's going to actually solve this problem. Government is still allowing insurance companies to restrict our freedom of choice in the marketplace, when in fact they should invoke anti trust legislation and break apart the health insurance monopolies.
That action alone would create lower cost, better quality and more accessible health-care for the most people, since the coercive element would be removed. Once that's gone, competition between suppliers will drive down costs, since the demand for health-care will always remain high.
If health-care is considered a "basic" right, government should promote the securing of that right, and to do that, it needs to get out of the health-care business, and take health insurance companies along.
It shouldn't. We need to reform a healthcare system that costs too much and doesn't cover enough people, but this bill does not seem to be the answer. This will create additional costs, a big, new bureaucracy (more jobs for the powers that be), and may not save any money. I think we need to answer a lot of questions first. For example, WHY does medical care cost as much as it does; no one has explained this to my satisfaction yet. If we are going to fix the problem (high costs), then I'd like to know exactly how the actions we are going to take address/solve that problem.
I'd also like to know why people do not have insurance. Are they illegals? Young people who would rather roll the dice than buy insurance? People planning on getting insurance when they get sick (once "pre-existing" conditions are "covered")? I lived without insurance for 9 months between jobs, and I know how anxiety ridden that can be. This is an example of a problem that can be solved without a massive new bill ... sell individuals insurance for limited times at a price they can afford ... other than the horrible thing that exists now.
There are many possible solutions to our health care problems; let's take our time and create a solution that actually solves something.
The issue of health care reform might be critical right now if the proponents are right in that reform would generate substantial savings over the short and long term. If they are correct, reforming a bloated and antiquated industry with cost cutting measures that are designed to enhance efficiency and streamlining expenses could generate much in the way of savings. Another reason as to why health care legislation might be worthy of pursuing is that its proponents point to the fact that at no time in the history of the United States has comprehensive health care reform been successfully initiated for all of its citizens. A nation whose primary focus is to promote the general welfare has little in way of significant legislation regarding health care. This would demonstrate a reason as to why its advocates speak to its effectiveness.
Basic needs are met similarly through many systems sponsored by the government and all are provided for the benefit of ALL of society. Our emergency systems- fire, police, FEMA, 911- are all government provided systems set up for the benefit of all, not just those who can afford it. Educational system- both K-12 and the state university systems- are government provided systems set up to increase the overall intelligence and opportunites for all, not just those who can afford it. Our national defense systems- Air Force, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, National Guard and the Marines- are provided by the government [and this is the largest portion of national spending] for the benefit of all, not just those who can afford it. Healthcare helps PREVENT and stop the spread of disease for the benefit for everyone, not just those who can afford it.
This is, of course, an opinion only. No one knows for sure if the bill (whichever version of it) is going to be good for the country.
To me, the strongest argument for universal health care is that people in a country as rich as ours have a right to some basic level of health care. It is, you can argue, immoral to have Americans who can go bankrupt if they get sick or who just have to forego visits to the doctor because they can't pay. It's even more wrong for their children to suffer too.
I think that's the strongest point in favor of the bill.
Response in post #9 appears to be an overreaction to government influence in lives of individuals. I think, it is more like allergy to a perfectly tasty and nutritious food. Government exist to make lives of people better. If governments don't do that, there is no need for governments. And there is no way how a government or any other organization, can make life of an individual better without affecting it in some way or the other life. Sometimes, I hear people using the phrase "personal life", But I fail to understand how the life of an individual can ever be impersonal for him or her. What ever effects the life of an individual has to affect him or her personally.
There is no justification on opposing any government action on the grounds that it affect people or their lives. As a matter of fact, I would go a step further and say that there is no point in government taking any action that does not affect people in any way. The only only justification of opposing any government action is that it affects people adversely.
I do not know the exact details of the Universal Health-care Reform Bill, but it appears that the fears of that fears of abbey77 are quite unfounded or exaggerated. I do not think that this bill will empower government to tell people "when it is time for them to die".
There are not many people who argue that all citizens should not have access to health care - this includes the vast majority of republicans. The issue that I do not quite understand is how so many people would be willing to give so much of their lives over to the government?
Maybe I am just too independent, but I abhore anybody (including the government) that tells me when it is time for me to die or have that much control over my life. That is a worse case senario...but one that will happen sooner or later.
Anyway, when my taxes go up because I have to pay for other people who are lazy and inconsiderate, I will be one of those people who goes up to fat people and asks them if they are doing any kind of exercise. After all it my money also that is paying for their diabetes or host of other diseases/care. And it is this money that my children will not have when they go to college. If they away from my childrens' education then the least they can do is be considerate and quit eating 50 twinkies a day and at least try to loose some weight.
I'm sure that the government will then pass some laws to restrict what people can eat...and do. After all, it is only fair that a person should be legally required to wear a helmet if they choose to run.