One of the most pertinent topics in the American political world today is health care; specifically, reforming health care. While it is not a new issue, President Obama has pushed it to the head of the roster, making it clear that he wants to change the way the U.S. health care system currently works. Thirty million people are without health care in our country; although we spend one and a half times what any other country spends per person on health care, our system falls short, ranking 37th in the world.
In a recent address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama outlined his plan for a new and improved health care system. For those already receiving health care through their employers, nothing will change. His plan will, however, make health insurance more secure in several ways. Among other things, it will be illegal for insurance companies to drop coverage when a person falls ill, out-of-pocket expenses will be eliminated, and those with pre-existing conditions will no longer be denied coverage. For those currently without health care, Obama’s plan will downsize the monopoly on insurance, lowering prices. For those who still cannot afford insurance, public health care will be offered, as coverage will be legally required under the proposed plan.
The issue of health care reform is unique in that it is not a party versus party debate. President Obama cited not only statistics in his speech but former presidential opponent John McCain, who also proposed a reform plan. It is clear, then, that most sides approve of some sort of significant modification to the current situation; however, which way is the best to go about it?
In regards to Barack Obama’s plan, I, myself, am torn. Initially, I was fully against any reform as of now, when it seems we do not have the resources to fund such a move. However, after viewing Obama’s speech, which asserted that “our health care problem is our deficit problem,” I have been slightly swayed. Apparently, the rise in the costs of insurance have caused taxpayers to pay more money, which goes toward programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Also, those of us who have health insurance pay an average of $1,000 a year for those of us who do not. I am not convinced, though, that the proposed plan will lower these costs. The president stated quite clearly in his address that he will not add to our country’s deficit. So, who will pay for the public health care that will be necessary when not everyone can afford insurance? The president claims that the entire program can be funded by savings within the health care system. How much money is in there? As we are in an economic crisis, the number of people unable to pay for their own plan will be undoubtedly great. If Obama is wrong, then it seems that it will, once again, be up to the taxpayers to compensate.
The president also admits that “there remain some significant details to be ironed-out.” Please tell, Mr. President, what are these “significant details,” a conundrum within itself? His plan represents an ideal, but is admittedly flawed as is. Of course I want cheaper health care; I remain a full-time student for the sole purpose of remaining on my parents’ plan because I cannot afford one of my own. We cannot move forward with this plan, however, if it is not infallible; neither our economy nor our citizens should need to suffer for the reform to work.
Perhaps once Obama’s plan has been fine-tuned and illuminates a bit more information (such as how a claim that savings within the health care system will fund this new venture), I will no longer remain skeptical. So long as reform does not include higher costs for American citizens or the government, and so long as private health care is still available to those who desire it (to prevent any decline in quality), I am pro-reform. If these criteria cannot be met while still maintaining these idyllic bullet-points for both the insured and uninsured, I say put it aside and save it for a day when our country can handle and welcome the change economically.