Our grandfather used to say he had a “no brainer” when he was dealt a hand in gin rummy where he could lay down his hand after drawing one card off the deck. Webster’s dictionary defines a no brainer as something that requires minimum thought. I can’t for the life of me understand why reforming our healthcare system isn’t considered a “no brainer” for most people because we spend more than any country and everyone isn’t covered !
This article from the New York Times a couple years ago points out many of the flaws in our system and very little has changed in the two years since this article was written, except for the fact that the number of uninsured is now 48 million. President Clinton was on Larry King the other night and said that because the United States spends 17% of its GDP on healthcare it puts us at a huge disadvantage when competing for business on a global basis against other countries.
Again this month Money magazine had an article “Focusing on the Real Health-Care Risks”. To summarize the article they said that the debate we are currently having is about risk.
Risk 1 – Reform Hurts Care – to which they say our current system is hardly a fine tuned machine. We have short wait times for cutting edge cures (that’s why big wigs from other countries come to the United States), but our death rate is the highest amoungst rich nations and everyone is not covered.
Risk 2 -You Can Lose Your Coverage – when the discussion turns to helping the uninsured most Americans think of these uninsured people as “other people”. Even those with good coverage are not sensitive to the price of their care which pushes costs up, making their insurance more expensive and over time causing their employer to drop their coverage.
Risk 3 – Medicare Implodes – People on Medicare are worried that reform will mean a cut in benefits, but if we do nothing the trust fund will be tapped out by 2017. The escalating cost of the Medicare program is the main driver of our long term deficit and can’t be fixed in isolation. The Medicare program just buys healthcare in the regular healthcare system so an overall reform that covers everyone which will make the system more efficient and slow the growth of Medicare costs which would in turn lower the risk of future benefit cuts.
To me it all comes down to a case of the “haves” versus the “have nots”. Most of us who are now “the haves” need to show compassion towards our fellow man “the have nots” because they are less fortunate than us. If healthcare isn’t reformed this year I know that it will be in the near future, most likely when more than 50% of our citizens no longer have private insurance because business can’t afford it and the “haves” become “the have nots” !