We need healthcare reform NOW. This can be accomplished in two ways: 1) Regulating insurance companies; the word regulate being one of the most hated words in the Republican dictionary, and 2) Overhauling what HMOs can do and providing a Public Option, as the President has proposed. Frankly speaking, the most likely reform to pass will undoubtedly be the second option, although this does not mean I am on the GOP’s side. This article addresses why we need healthcare reform.
For too long, we have let the people of this country go without a security that if they get sick, they will be provided the necessary health coverage to get better. Insurance companies cannot be trusted based on its 30+ years history - they terminate a patient's health insurance when it becomes too costly for them. They pay doctors and hospitals for the amount of tests they conduct, rather than how much better the patient gets. They deny coverage to people which ends up costing everyone more through higher premiums by not giving them the proper care they deserved originally. A sick worker leads to lower productivity and increased costs for businesses as well as higher long-term costs in the world economy and increased burdens on future generations.
Republicans and Conservatives claim that the government will not be able to handle national healthcare since it already cannot effectively handle Medicare and other government-regulated industries. They claim that Medicare is bloated and that people should instead go and buy their own insurance. But if someone is sick, how can they possibly afford the time to review the offers of private insurance companies when the companies are only in for profit? President Nixon started Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) because it provided a way for private companies to earn a profit off our illness. True, having perfect competition is a key value of democracy and capitalism in America, and a free market with individual choice is key to ensuring the best quality. But when it comes to healthcare, something that is so integral to our lives, we just cannot trust large corporations who pocket our money for their happiness to ensure that we will be better off. From an insurance companies' point of view, if a patient is going to be too expensive to keep insuring, then they just cut them off, regardless of the fact that the patient has paid them continually beforehand for an assurance that they will be taken cared for in times of need. Is that not what insurance is for?
And trust me, I am not only behind healthcare reform for myself, I am also writing for my uncle, who for nearly a year has been in and out of area hospitals and has most recently been diagnosed with leukemia. What made my family’s dealing with this crisis worse was brought on by his insurance company's ridiculous terms. When the hospital chose to place him in a 1-person room, his HMO denied payment since they would only pay for his hospitalization’s room and board if he stayed in a "semi-private" (2-person) room. This dispute took place at a time when he was suffering immensely as a result of sometimes-failed treatments and numerous blood transfusions. Another incident was when he had to be rushed to the hospital after being released due to a sudden change in his condition. The HMO accused him for not notifying them beforehand about a hospitalization, but in an emergency, would anyone really be willing to spend precious time waiting on a phone with their insurer to let them know that they needed to go to the hospital? Besides, the hospital, with its numerous staff and resources, should have the responsibility to notify the insurance company.
Having the government step in and level the playing field is critical in the healthcare industry because they realize that since our tax dollars are being used to pay for it, there has to be a good return for the investment. Instead of waiting until a patient is sick to treat them, more emphasis is placed on ensuring that patients get better preventative treatment by increasing the availability of tests which help spot problems before they occur. Rewarding health practitioners for the quality of care rather than the quantity of care they give, the reverse of which was the status quo, is also a key goal of healthcare reform since it does not make sense for hospitals to release patients before they fully recover to only have them return soon for the same problem.
Part 2 - Conclusion - will be available tomorrow.