Cure for Healthcare Debate is Universal System

Mike Demarais

By: Mike Demarais
Class of 2010 

Almost everyone can agree that the United States health care system is not working very well.  The health care debate has been in the news for months but what is it about?  Well, right now nearly 50 million Americans do not have health insurance, and over 18,000 Americans will die this year simply because they are uninsured.  Obama has created a plan to reform the system, but it is not enough. What this country needs is universal health care, Obama’s plan is just a bandaid on the problem, but universal health care is the cure. His reform efforts are good intentioned but amount to just a lazy attempt to bring the United States towards a government run health care system.  His efforts are stunted by his bipartisanship and his willingness to appease the right, which is making his plan less like a universal healthcare system and more like minor reforms on the current system.

    Obama’s plan offers the public an option to a free government provided health insurance plan. However, this plan would allow the large health insurance companies to continue offering their services. These huge corporations rake in billions of dollars a year, profiting off of peoples misfortune. Health insurance companies make money by finding reasons to deny clients claims (basically, they find reasons not to help you). One of the largest insurance companies in the country, Aetna, reported $31 billion in profits in 2008; Aetna has been noted to give large bonuses to employees who deny the most claims, giving them an incentive not provide any services to help the client.  Helping these companies continue to thrive is morally wrong and is not the answer to our nations health care crisis.  In a universal single-payer system these companies would be obsolete and nonexistent.

    Universal health care is a system in which the government pays for your health care using tax-funded programs. Many countries use this system very successfully, most notably Canada, England, and France.   All of these countries rank above the United States in The World Health Organization’s (WHO) analysis of international health systems.  The United States has the 37th spot on the list right in between Costa Rica and Slovenia.  Nothing against the fine nations of Costa Rica and Slovenia, but this statistic is offensive. America the most powerful nation in the world deserves better than the 37th position. We are the richest nation in the world but we refuse to guarantee something as simple and as majorly important as healthcare?

    This single-payer universal system, however, would be expensive and extremely difficult to fund.  Most politicians use the exorbitant cost to back their opposition to the plan, but in reality the cost is actually quite small.  Obama’s plan may require $60 billion to start and maintain the system and there is no doubt that an ideal universal healthcare system would cost more, but America has no problem shelling out an estimated $1.6 trillion dollars since 2001 on the unnecessary and pointless Iraq War.  If we are fine with funding over a trillion dollars for a war that was denounced by the UN several times, then we should have no problem providing medical care to its own people.  To fund the ideal single-payer system we would definitely need to end or at least drastically cut the annual spending on the war, and would have to find new sources of tax revenue such as the proposed ‘soda tax’ or the legalization and taxation of marijuana like California is considering, both of which could raise billions of dollars if implemented nationwide.

    The main reason we are not already implementing Universal Healthcare in this country is due to misconstrued facts, anti-left propaganda and the deep-seated hatred for anything socialist.  We get taught since the beginning of our education about our great capitalist society and how evil and terrible anything socialist or communist is.  This is funny because America is a lot more socialist than many people would like to believe. As I am writing this article I am in a government run public institute of education, and if you are reading then you probably received it in the government run public postal service, but no one seems to be against the horrible socialist aspects of those services.    The healthcare lobbyists and the powerful right have spread blatant lies and misconstrued facts that scare the average uninformed Americans into supporting the current system. One famous lie about universal healthcare is that in Canada patients have to wait extremely long times to get appointments for visits.  This is not true.  In Canada, waiting times are just as fast as those in the United States for emergencies and for those people that need intensive care. However, patients looking to get elective surgeries such as hip or knee replacements may experience a longer wait than Americans, but in reality these waiting times should be longer because of their non-crucial status.  In a recent study it has been found that 70-80% of Canadians find that their waiting times are acceptable, and it is very hard to get 80% of a country to agree on anything!  More recently, to impede Obama’s plan’s progress the right started to spread the rumors that under Obamacare illegal aliens would receive free healthcare, and that government run death panels would euthanize your grandmother to cut costs and save money.  These lies are rediculous and could not be farther from the truth.  Under the current healthcare system illegal aliens do receive free healthcare, its called the Emergency Room, and Obama’s plan read verbatim that illegal immigrants would not recieve any free care. The ‘death panel’ rumors are absurd.  There is nothing in Obama’s bill that would create such counsels and this lie is pure fiction.  These lies do apply to Obama’s plan specifically but are just examples of how bogus claims can tarnish and completely ruin an effort to do good.

    What is so evil about helping our fellow Americans when they are ill, in a time of desperate need, a time when they cannot help themselves?