Health Care Solutions
Health care is an essential safeguard of human life and dignity, and there is an obligation for society to ensure that every person be able to realize this right.
~Cardinal Joseph Bernardin
Universal Health Care
It is time to reform the health care system in the United States – time to make it affordable, portable, and accessible to all Americans. We are fortunate to live in a nation where the health care resources are abundant – we have modern hospitals, sophisticated equipment, well-equipped rural facilities, skilled and dedicated physicians and nurses, and plentiful medications. The medical research conducted here is immense and we fund health care far more generously than any other nation. Yet, even with all the medical resources at our disposal, the present health care system is inefficient and inequitable.
The solution to our health care crisis is in developing a new system of health insurance – one that is more focused on providing equitable access rather than making a profit for big business. Health care should be decided by a doctor, not a case manager in an HMO office. Patients should be able to choose their own doctor, not be limited to those on an approved list. The money currently spent on health care should go towards more health care, not on wasteful overhead and executive bonuses.
The belief that all citizens should have access to affordable, high-quality medical care is the defining principle of universal health care. Universal health care is a very broad concept, it does not mandate complete government control. While government is important in passing laws and public policy, private doctors and medical practices would still be an important part of the health care system. Many are afraid that universal health care would lead to an institution of socialized medicine, but that is not the case.
A Better Solution – Streamline Costs
While there are many proposals for health care reform, the concept of a single-payer health insurance system would save money and be a better use of both taxpayer and health care dollars.
- The United State spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on health care, $7,129 per capita. (Source: National Center for Health Statistics) Yet, in comparison, our health care system performs poorly, 47 million people are without health insurance, and millions more and underinsured.
The current system of private, for-profit insurance spends 26 cents of every dollar on bureaucracy and paperwork. By streamlining payment through a single non-profit payer, it would save over $350 billion per year, a substantial amount of money which could be better spent on health care.
- Medicare operates with 3% overhead, non-profit insurance 16% overhead, and private (for-profit) insurance 26% overhead. (Source: Journal of American Medicine 2007)
Funding of Universal Health Care
- Funding for universal health care is provided by the population, whether through compulsory health insurance, taxation, or a combination of both. Some health care costs may be paid by the patient and some health care costs may be covered by the universal health insurance program.
Although the structure of the health system would change under a universal health care program, the funding would be provided by the same people who pay for it now – taxpayers. Currently, public money (federal and state taxes, property taxes, and tax subsidies) already pays for about 60% of the US health care system. Instead of private spending for insurance by employers, employees, and other individuals, however, the amount would be collected as a tax. Overall, spending by employers and individuals is expected to go down. Although health care would continue to be a mix of public and private health care providers, the payment would be handled by one health insurance program. This would reduce waste and make the system more efficient.
A Better Solution – Make Insurance Portable
To make insurance portable is to separate insurance coverage from employment. The insurance plan should follow a person – from job to job, job to self-employment, job to retirement, job to raising a family, or whatever other employment change life may bring. A person should not have to switch insurance companies with a change in employment or lose coverage because they want to take a few years off to raise a family or retire early. This current process is disruptive, often requires a change of doctors, affects coverage, and increases paperwork. A person should be able to choose a health plan, pay an affordable premium to a single-payer insurance program, and have that same coverage and premium irregardless of employer or job status.
A Better Solution – Improve Access to Preventive Care
Increasing access to preventative health care and basic treatment will improve health outcomes and reduce treatment costs.
- less than 4 cents of every health care dollar is spent on prevention and public health
With our current health care system, no one can be turned away for medical care in the event of a medical emergency. As a result, the uninsured are more often treated in emergency rooms than those without insurance. Because the uninsured don’t have access to treatment when a health problem first occurs, they don’t seek medical care until it becomes a much more serious situation. Emergency room care is very expensive – it would cost less to either pay for preventive health care or treat the health problem before it become a more serious situation.
- 75% of all health care dollars are spent on patients with one or more chronic conditions, many of which can be prevented
More money should be spent on prevention and public health. With access to preventive care and early treatment, many cases of illness or chronic diseases could be controlled or prevented.