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Should the Government Provide Health Care?

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Health care here in America is a hot topic among the conversations around the water cooler. Between the slow economic recession we are all facing and the high cost of medical coverage, and more and more American’s are having to go without. Among working-age adults (those ages 18-64), 19.8% did not have health insurance in 2006, an increase in the percent uninsured from 18.9% the year before. (CDC, 2007) Is there a health care crisis in America? Should we now look at the government for help when it comes to our health care? In this paper I look at the argument for and against united health care system, and how it may benefit or annihilate the remainder of the economy in America. I will also describe how freedom, moral responsibility and ethics play into the role of health care for America.

What is universal health care? It refers to a system where every legal resident of that country be covered by some form of insurance, through tax revenues from the paying citizens. Universal health care is a broad notion that has been implemented in several ways. The common denominator for all such programs is some form of government action aimed at providing access to health care as widely as possible. Most countries implement universal health care through legislation, regulation and taxation. Legislation and regulation direct what care must be provided, to whom, and on what basis. What about America, would UHC be beneficial, could it collapse the economy, would people be willing to have their taxes raised in order to pay for the health care of their family and friends?

The United States is the only wealthy, industrialized country that does not have a universal health care system. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008) This administration estimates that the federal government will spend over $600 billion on health care in fiscal 2008. Of that, Medicare will claim roughly $390 billion, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) about $210 billion, veterans’ medical care about $34 billion. (Williams, 2008) Why is it that as one of the top wealthiest countries we will not enact a universal health care system? Now, let’s look at the debate amongst people in America on the hot topic of universal health care. Health Care 3

From an economic position, however, most medical treatments are increasingly out of reach to many Americans. Health care costs, as reported by the New York Times, are rising twice as fast as inflation. (Freudenheim, 2006) And health insurance, as reported by USA Today, “is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many employers and working people.” (Appleby, 2007) This disagreement is affecting doctors as well. The American Medical Association warns physicians that, due to the lack of affordable health insurance, “more patients will delay treatment and doctors will likely see more uncompensated care.” (Hansen, 2007) According to a recent survey of doctors, “30 to 40 percent of practicing physicians would not choose to enter the medical profession if they were deciding on a career again, and an even higher percentage would not encourage their children to pursue a medical career.” (Medical News Today, 2007)

This system of health care play a role in everyone’s life, we all have the need to want to feel good, but at the expense of not only our pocket book but also at the expense of others such as doctors. We can all agree that we pay a lot of taxes in the United States; we can also agree that most Americans are losing their jobs at an astronomical rate, if this united health care system was set into place, where is the government getting the taxes from when there is a large majority of Americans not working? It seems to me that you can’t take more from someone who has less or none.

Over the past several months we have seen a large amount ethics not being followed by our representatives and senators up in Washington, D.C. One had the most media attention. Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska accepted a hefty deal out of the health care reform bill. In exchange for a “yes” vote on the 10-year, $871 billion package, the government promised permanent and full federal aid for his state’s growing Medicaid population with the baby boomers looming. Some Western states got more money for hospitals that mainly serve Medicare patients, anything for a “yes” vote from those senators, congressmen and congresswomen from those states. The most expensive payoff is Louisiana. Mary Landrieu accepted up to $300 million in Medicaid benefits for her state, the sad part is, the list goes on. Fox News reported that, “votes have been bought,” by Sen. Saxby Chamliss, R-Ga., (Fox News.com, 2009) Bribes in politics are nothing out of the norm anymore.

Where did the ethics and morals go in Washington? When you walk through those doors, do you lose yourself and your inner guide? Many American’s question those morals and values today. If we have a universal system of health care, we will find that the wait times for us to see a doctor, get a MRI, or just check out or child for the common cold will be slower and less capable. This could possibly lead to more deaths and even less people getting treated. When we are in control of our own insurance and health care, we are able to go to the doctor or hospital of our choice, even with a HMO we are still able to choose. If we are to have social health care there will be no more choices for us when it comes to how we are treated and who we are treated by. Our freedom of choice will be stripped away. This form of health care will make doctors treat their patients with less care, the lack of doctor/patient relationships, be treated all the same, and will make the quality of care below the standard that American’s should have for themselves.

When we look at America today, we see the obesity rate is up, teen pregnancy is up, mental health issues are higher now than they have ever been. A universal health care system in place will make people less responsible for themselves, if they know that the government is going to give them a free ride. The people that are not taking care of themselves will stay in the position they are in until they die, they will never take action to fix their problems. When insurance is paid out of pocket of by an employer, people are more apt to take better care of themselves this is partly due to the fact that as Americans we are set to a higher standard and we love our money, taking it away is not something that we like to do. We can find many other ways to possibly lower costs in areas that the funds can be used for health care, first, we can lower the cost of medical school in order that doctors are not taking out a small fortune in student loans just making their way through medical school. If we find a way to lower the cost of the classes and schooling involved in becoming a doctor, more American’s may be able to afford a visit to the doctor’s office for the needed treatment.

Another way in which we can reduce the cost of health care for the normal American citizen is to cap medical malpractice lawsuits nationwide, this will lower the cost of the doctors insurance that they carry to cover their practice. There are so many ways in which we can lower the health care system without having the government running every little detail of our lives. When these cost savers are put into play we will see more people able to purchase health care and more doctors readily available to treat a patient.  In conclusion I feel the benefits of a nationalized health care system, with its accompanying government bureaucracy, are more than outweighed by the negative impacts to patient care and cost. I think that there are plenty of other things that can and should be done to lower costs and improve service that can and should be done. Our senators and congressmen are stepping over the lines and endangering their moral responsibility by taking payoffs and bribes in Washington. Psychiatrist Willard Gaylin sums up his view on freedom and responsibility, “Freedom demands responsibility; autonomy demands culpability” (Waller, 2008)

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