Healthcare Reform in the United States

While the United States delivers some of the best medical care in the world, there are major inefficiencies in our healthcare system. We have high rates of medical errors, millions without health insurance coverage, and lower utilization of advanced health information technology than most western European nations. It seems every time you turn on the evening news, you hear something about the healthcare system in American and how it is in shambles. Without question, one of the biggest challenges facing American citizens is our dysfunctional healthcare system.

During the elections of 2008, President Barack Obama’s key issue was the focus on overall healthcare reform in the United States. Is Universal Healthcare really necessary? Many will disagree. I am one of the lucky ones who has coverage now, but who knows what the future may bring? Therefore, I firmly believe that healthcare reform is necessary. Not only will this bill provide health care for all Americans, but it will also create jobs. And that is something that could benefit all Americans.

On March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law and was amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act on March 30, 2010. The name “Affordable Care Act” is used to refer to the final, amended version of the law. For some thirty-two million Americans who currently lack insurance, the new law expands access to Medicaid, along with subsidies to help small businesses and individuals with modest means to purchase reasonably-priced coverage. Jacobs and Skocpol 1, 4) For the elderly on Medicare, the new law promises free preventive checkups and more complete subsides for prescription drug coverage.

And for the Americans who already have health insurance via their employers, the new law promises key regulatory protections. By 2014, private insurers will no longer be able to avoid or drop coverage for people with serious “preexisting” health conditions. By the fall of 2010, they will have to cover children regardless of health problems and allow young adults to remain on parental insurance plans until the age of twenty-six. Sommer 10) Healthcare reform cannot be accomplished overnight, and the majority of the changes will span over the next eight years. Many wonder if we can provide everyone with essential care. To a significant degree, we already do.

Taxpayers already cover the health care costs of elderly (Medicare) patients, many of the poor and disabled veterans. These publicly-financed programs cover more than half of all health care expenditures in the United States, considerably more than is financed by traditional, private health insurance. Sommers 12) . Those of us receiving insurance as a “benefit” of employment are actually paying for our insurance in the form of lower wages. The real costs for universal coverage cannot be very different from what we pay now in multiple, varied and disjointed means. When examining it from this perspective, how can universal healthcare be a bad thing? One of the reasons other countries can invest less in healthcare and have better outcomes is that they waste less on administrative overhead.

Canadians spend only four cents of every healthcare dollar on overhead. When private insurance companies manage our care, they spend more than thirty cents of every dollar on approval and denial processes, marketing and profits. Simply reducing overhead and minimizing the use of unnecessary drugs and procedures should cover the costs of insuring the Americans who are presently uninsured. It is time to stand up to these greedy insurance companies and start protesting the ridiculous costs they pass on to policy holders.

While it may seem that healthcare reform is a good thing, there are some negative aspects as well. Adding another $940 billion to the deficit is not a good thing for the U. S. economy. (Sommer 24). Yes, the Congressional Budget Office said healthcare would actually reduce the budget deficit; however, nobody knows when that will happen. The government has to pay for healthcare reform somehow. Taxing business is a big strategy and employers with fifty or more employees will be fined $2,000 per employee if they do not provide affordable medical coverage.

The United States would obviously benefit from a fresh, new look at how we deliver and pay for healthcare, from a willingness to consider radical reforms of more efficient and effective delivery and financing systems. Some Americans fear that they may end up with less money than they currently have. The Democrats argue that healthcare reform will make healthcare less expensive, which means employers would have more money to hire more workers. The Republicans, on the other hand, disagree.

They maintain the hefty fines imposed on employers, who don’t offer their employees health insurance, will result in employers laying off workers to keep costs down. (Sommer 20). A more optimistic view of healthcare reform recognizes its potential to improve the efficiency of the U. S. healthcare system. More efficient healthcare will lower the burden of health insurance premiums for firms, and in turn allow them to hire more workers. This will also increase the number of jobs for Americans and at the same time reduce the financial woes of those individuals struggling with no insurance in a depressed labor market.

Many individuals argue that it is not necessary to have health insurance. They will tell you they eat right, exercise and take good care of themselves. However, having dealt with catastrophic events in my life, from my husband’s heart attack, to my son’s lengthy hospitalization with MRSA, a deadly staph infection, I can assure you that having good medical care is a necessity. Without it, my family would have encountered bankruptcy and could have lost everything. Therefore, I believe providing healthcare for all American’s is a step in the right direction, and will ensure a healthier nation.

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