Rising health care costs are affecting every segment of society, causing a strong polarization of opinions on what should be done. The facts that there will not be one easy solution and that the outcome will cause a colossal change in how our nation receives health care explains why opinions and emotions are exceptionally strong.
While some view reform as an opportunity to lower expenses, others feel that the expense of such a plan would bankrupt the nation. Republicans and some Democrats are balking at the cost of the proposed health care plan which is estimated to exceed $1 trillion. Republicans would like to reform health care by offering tax breaks for buying health insurance or to build “health savings accounts.” They also envision small businesses forming “pools” to qualify for lower insurance rates.
President Obama has left the details of the plan for Congress to work out through a group of committees; developing proposals and modifying them as part of the negotiation process. At any given time, due to the attempts to parlay one gain from another, the details of these proposals may vary substantially. Resulting from this lack of reliable information which people need to make informed choices, they are now becoming distrustful and more anxious than ever.
The issues which most people are concerned with are:
Pre-existing Conditions: Not a Problem
People with heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and other serious illnesses who lose their health insurance when they are laid off will not be denied insurance according to President Obama in a recent town hall meeting. Opponents are suspicious that he may raise taxes on the upper income population and increase health insurance costs for the young to pay for it.
Disease Prevention and Disease Treatment
Health care reform will include measures to reduce costs by helping people become more active in their health care by emphasizing disease prevention before disease occurs. Use of the Emergency Room as a doctor’s office for many who either are without health insurance or who can’t see their own physician demands re-education and easier access.
Health Insurance Mandate: Requiring individuals and employers to obtain insurance
Younger individuals who generally make less and do not buy health insurance will be forced to pay for something they don’t feel they need. By expanding the population with healthier policy holders, insurance costs on average will decrease. By instituting an employer mandate forcing more businesses to offer health care coverage would result in some losing a competitive edge they have by operating at a lower cost. The anticipated reduction in health care costs which are welcomed by employers who currently offer health insurance would allow them to continue despite the loss of revenue due to the recession.
The Death Panel: Government Regulation of Health Care
More people will have access to health care if the government mandates it and sets up programs to achieve that goal. Opposition to the plan rests on fears of big government regulation having too much control of people’s lives, exemplified by the furor over former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s spread of the rumor of a “death panel.”
Many family doctors believe that President Obama’s health care reform plan will offer a choice which fosters quality health care, competitiveness, and lower health care costs. The American Medical Association voices concern that by offering doctors compensation on the level of Medicare would decimate medical schools and cause deterioration in an already serious doctor shortage. Health care costs Americans three times that in Canada, France and the UK. Comparing the quality of health care in the U.S. reveals that we rank 50th in life expectancy, and 180th in infant mortality, higher than France and Sweden. President Obama has claimed that health care reform will be the key issue of his presidency; it is too important not to be.