A major concern for most Americans today is security. We worry about the safety of our schools, airports, neighborhoods, borders and soldiers at war. However, we often overlook our personal security in health related matters, and as health insurance premiums sky rocket, and more and more Americans are left uninsured, health care should be one of our main security concerns.
According to the American Medical Student Association, AMSA, 45 million Americans have no form of health insurance, and millions more are underinsured. Americaâ€™s baby boomers are now beginning to retire, and since they are growing older, their health needs will increase. Medicaid and other programs established to help Americans pay for health care may not be able to meet the growing demand of health insurance aid.
Health insurance has always been a problem for low income Americans, but now affordable health care is becoming difficult to find for middle class citizens. According to AMSA, health insurance premiums are increasing at two to three times the rate of inflation, and more employers are choosing to terminate their health care coverage programs offered to employees.
The most frustrating aspect of Americaâ€™s health care problem is the fact that our country has the means to establish a universal health care program, which would grant every U.S. citizen health insurance, but lobbyists from drug and insurance companies adamantly fight against such a system. The U.S. is treating health care as a privilege offered only to people who can afford it when it should see health care as a basic human right.
Nancy Steiner, who works in the health insurance department of a small, privately owned insurance agency, believes that a universal health care program would benefit Americans. â€œThere are millions of Americans who are without health insurance and do not seek medical help when they need it. If they had a health care program, they would go get the medical assistance they needed,â€ she said.
â€œA universal health care program would greatly benefit the uninsured and underinsured,â€ Steiner said. â€œBut health insurance businesses would have to close and their employees would be out of work,â€ she said. However, it is clear that the costs of Americans not having a form of health insurance are far greater than the losses that would be suffered from insurance businesses.
The American Medical Student Association gives several examples of the costs of not having a universal health care program. One example is that people without health insurance do not live as long, thus contributing less to the economy and work force. AMSA also claims that children who are uninsured suffer greater developmental losses, affecting their future earning capacity.
Finally, AMSA reports claim that Medicare, Social Security Disability Insurance and the criminal justice system suffer higher expenses since there is no form of universal health insurance. People who are uninsured generally have poorer health, and once they enroll in Medicare or Social Security Disability Insurance, they have higher health care costs to help fix their health problems that have been neglected.
The costs to society of not having a basic guarantee of health care to all its citizens are almost endless, but how much would it cost the U.S. to enact such a program? The Institute of Medicine estimates that a universal health care program would cost approximately 34 to 69 billion dollars per year, depending on what kind of benefits the program offered to the uninsured.
This sounds extremely expensive, but consider this: the National Coalition for Health Care released a report in 2005 calculating the costs and expenses of a universal health care program. The report reveals that creating a universal, publicly financed health care program would save 1.1 trillion dollars over the next ten years.
The report also states that requiring employers to provide a certain level of health insurance to their employees, requiring all citizens to have some form of health insurance and expanding public health care programs like Medicaid would save an additional 320.5 billion dollars in the next ten years. Creating a new health care program for the uninsured similar to the program offered to federal employees would save 369.8 billion over the next ten years.
It is clear that a universal health care program would benefit Americans immensely. It would guarantee health care for everyone, help the economy and give the proper medical care to the people that need it. It is difficult to believe that America is the only industrialized nation that does not offer such a program, and even more sad to know that a universal health care program may never be offered to U.S. citizens.
â€œA universal health care program is possible, but wonâ€™t happen in the immediate future. Large health care companies and health insurance companies will always fight legislation in congress that would enact such a program,â€ Steiner said.
Keep these facts in mind next time you vote. Elect an official that realizes that health care is a human right, not just a privilege for the wealthy. America is one of the worldâ€™s most wealthy and powerful countries. Our nation most certainly has the means to offer all its citizens basic health care, so why are millions and millions of Americans uninsured and suffering?
WORLD - AN EDGE IN MY VOICE
Copyright © 2010 Dani Further
The Universal Health Care Program
Copyright © 2010 Dani Further
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