The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Healthcare should be a requirement for U.S. citizens

In 2006 the National Center for Health Statistics found that 43.3 million Americans under the age of 65, and 9.3 percent of children under the age of 18 did not have health insurance.

The United States “is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not ensure that all citizens have coverage,” according to the Institute of Medicine’s 2004 report “Insuring America’s Health: Principals and Recommendations.”

While almost everyone can agree that this is a serious problem, people disagree on how it should be dealt with and whether or not a universal health care system would work in the U.S.

After finally seeing Michael Moore’s film “Sicko” earlier this semester, which tells horror stories about people who are uninsured as well as those who have insurance but don’t have their needs covered by it, my point of view was further solidified.

Something needs to be done about the state of the health care system in America because it is failing to meet the needs of its citizens.

For those who don’t know, universal health care means that every citizen in a given country is provided with health care free of cost. Of course, nothing is really free and the money used to pay for these programs comes from taking more money out of people’s paychecks in the form of increased taxes. An alternative is requiring everyone to have affordable, low or no cost health insurance. The government gets involved either way, de-privatizing medical treatment while private health care is still available to those who can afford it and want to have it.

Opponents of universal health care often argue that it will increase people’s wait times to get the care they need, the care they get will be of a lower quality, they don’t want to pay extra taxes and putting health care in the hands of the government is a mistake. If people are allowed to keep their private insurance then those people shouldn’t have to worry about anything except higher taxes, and some things are worth paying more for.

The idea behind universal health care is that everyone is taken care of, no matter how much money they make, and everyone puts in to the same pot so that no one will have to go without having their basic need for health care met.

People die every day in the U.S. because they have insufficient health care and to say that the cost of saving those lives is too high is cold and inhuman.And what happens when it’s you or a member of your family or one of your friends who needs medical attention and can’t get it because they can’t afford it, or they get it anyway and are then buried in a never-ending mound of debt?

Like 15 percent of the population I am uninsured, as are many of my friends. We live every day with the knowledge that if something serious were to happen to one of us there would be hardly anything we could do.

Without health insurance my family could not afford to pay for necessary treatments if I was sick; or for physical therapy if I was in an accident; or for any other number of things that could happen.

Those of us who lack insurance are left extremely vulnerable and can’t even get basic check-ups, let alone the more expensive care. When you don’t have insurance you can’t find out if that cough is just a cold or really pneumonia, you can’t get a cavity filled and you can’t get your eyesight checked. Whether or not the care really would be less accessible and of a lower quality, it is certainly better than having no care at all.

While it’s entirely possible that the government would mess up health care the same way they’ve messed up other public services like social security, I would simply advise people to hope for the best and prepare to move to Canada in case things don’t work out.

It’s true that America is very different from most of the countries that have universal health coverage and our sense of independence is challenged by the idea of socialized medicine, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth fighting for.

It’s an ideal that may not be possible to realize any time soon but it’s something the country can start working toward today.

Health care has been a major issue in the 2008 presidential campaign so far, with each candidate coming up with their own visions of a better-working, more comprehensive health care system for the country. Though Obama, Clinton, and McCain all stop short of promoting full universal coverage.

If everyone is created equal and has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as guaranteed by our government, then why can’t they protect those rights by giving citizens the health care they need to stay alive, free and happy?

In the end it really comes down to being a human rights issue and everyone deserves the basic care they need to survive. It’s not about politics, it’s about care.

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