Politics & Media
Jul 18, 2008, 10:22AM

America's Lone Healthcare System

This columnist from the University of Mississippi gives an argument why the United States needs to switch over to a universal health care system, using the success of similar programs in foreign countries as a backdrop. When America's health statistics are being beaten out by Cuba, it appears that "change" will be a major issue in the upcoming election.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates the number of Americans without health insurance has reached 47 million. That means that 15.8 percent of the residents of the self-proclaimed "best" country in the world do not have access to adequate health care.

It is true that America is home to some of the world's best doctors and hospitals; however, many Americans receive inadequate care or no care at all. The uninsured are forced to turn to emergency rooms for treatment for ailments routinely treated by a simple visit to the doctor's office. This results in long waits for patients with more severe injuries and higher costs for the insured as hospitals attempt to recover the cost of treating those unable to pay.

Health care is going to be a pivotal issue in the coming presidential election. The U.S. health care system is broken. Both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barrack Obama acknowledge serious problems, including the use of "gate keepers" and the difficulties faced by those with pre-existing conditions in getting health coverage.

Even as the health care debate in the U.S. takes center stage in the public's eye, both candidates tiptoe around the topic of reform. McCain risks alienating the Republican base by promising universal coverage, and Obama must communicate his plans for universal health care without sounding like a "socialist".

Though a universal health care is desired by many, it remains a touchy subject. Typically, talk of universal plans stirs images of socialized medicine like that found in England. And while it is true there are big problems with the health service in the United Kingdom, there are many universal health care systems that offer much better care than the American system and at a much lower cost.

The American health care system is said to be market-based. This means (whether admitted or not) health care decisions are often influenced more by the financial outcome for the provider and insurance company than the health of the patient.
This profit seeking is ruining the health of far too many Americans. In the quest for increased profits, insurers and hospitals have resorted to practices that lead one to question whether any sense of ethics remains in corporate America.

  • Most of this article is hard to refute, and it's obvious Obama will do more to fix the healthcare system than McCain. One question, though: Making insurance companies "non-profit"? I'm no economist, but wouldn't that cause a huge number of layoffs, and set off a market reaction not unlike what's happening in the housing industry? In addition, politicians, of both parties, get so much money from insurance companies, that'll never happen.

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