Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Health Care Crisis

There are well over forty-five million Americans without health care insurance (approximately 16.0%) and that number is continuously growing. What is the real impact of not having health insurance? The consequences are devastating. Those without such coverage delay going to seek medical assistance; until, they are incapacitated by their ailments. When they are in a health crisis, they go, by necessity, to the emergency rooms of public hospitals and clinics. For some, they might already be too late to receive the kind of help that they need to live healthy and productive lives. In addition, this situation places an overwhelming burden on public health facilities. There are many uninsured children who are seriously impacted by this situation. It seems reasonable to assume that many die unnecessarily and prematurely as a result of this predicament. The net result of these policies is that the availability of adequate health care is subject to an individual's economic situation. In other words, one should not plan on being seriously ill if you are not a person of adequate means.

This is occurring in a country whose citizens have the highest per capita expenditure to meet medical needs. These resources are fed into for-profit companies, whose CEOs often make exorbitant salaries. In an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it was reported that between 19.3 and 24.1 percent of health care expenditures are consumed by administrative costs. These data were far in excess of those reported in Canada, as an example. As a consequence of the astronomical size of this public investment, one would expect a sizeable return in regards to the expected product i.e. good health care. In fact, the World Health Organization ranked world health systems and has found the U.S. to be thirty-eighth in regard to health care services just behind Costa Rica. This is an unconscionable situation. The general health and well being of the American people have become subservient to the private health insurance companies, whose behavior is driven by profit, self-aggrandizement and the vagaries of so-called “market forces.”

I believe the American people have waited long enough for a resolution to this crisis. It is time for legislation to be drafted to institute a national health care system that embraces all the American people. This, I believe, would be a real step towards national security. It is time for those in Congress who claim to be for the people’s interest to muster the will and political backbone to face corporate opposition to a national plan of action that would lift the burden of fear and uncertainty that so many families shoulder when it comes to finding affordable health care for themselves and the ones they love.

If this problem continues to be ignored, it will reap a terrible harvest in the future, since so many millions will live with their health in serious jeopardy, especially in light of the seventy million elderly (so-called “baby boomers”) that will soon be in the general population.

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