“Should we guarantee health care for all our citizens?” was our previous question. We received so many responses that we decided to spread them over two issues. Here are the first of them: Yes, we should guarantee it for every citizen. It is appalling that, in a country as rich as ours, citizens who have worked hard all their lives are forced into bankruptcy due to health care bills.
Yes, I think that health care should be a right, not a privilege for those born in the right class of high riches. At least the minimum help to stay healthy. It’s ridiculous that we expect the poor to drag themselves out of the situation that they’re in when they don’t even have access to the resources that will help them.
Yes! “The general welfare” requires that we all have clean air, safe highways, and health care.
— Jere Berger
My initial reaction, before the 2009 discussions on this topic, was “Of course!” I have been poor enough at times in my life to be unable to afford health care, and I know it is a scary way to live. Some elements I had not considered have been raised since then, however, and I am no longer certain that health care should be guaranteed. To guarantee health care means to impose it. I think the government imposes enough things on the American public already. I do not condone having another one added. Imposing health care coverage means that every individual would have to have it whether he or she wants it–or needs it–or not. It means insurance companies could justifiably raise their prices for insurance because the payouts would increase when companies are forced to cover everyone no matter the level of risk. It means penalties and lawsuits for those people who choose not to participate, and it means the money has to come from somewhere. That somewhere is usually the taxpayers’ pockets, which are empty enough already.
Perhaps we are asking the wrong question. Perhaps the real question is: Should we make affordable healthcare available to everyone? Making it available is not the same thing as imposing it, and the key word in this version is affordable. REAL insurance reform might help pay to lower the costs to the average person and put coverage within the reach of more families. I am not an economist, but I know that the current plans are untenable–both morally and financially.
I think the real questions isn’t should we, it is how should we – we are a wealthy country with more than enough money dedicated to health care to ensure that everyone receives a standard of care. The system of funding and distributing healthcare is where the problem lies – why spend $500,000 on a procedure which will extend a life for 3 months when that money could cover 1000+ mammograms? Why do we spend $1000 on a CT Scan for someone who is showing no neurological signs? Either in a private system or socialized system we need to understand healthcare dollars are a limited resource and need to spend them where the most value is. This would enable better coverage for all.
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