Health Care – The Ugly Debate
Barack Obama's popularity is in a free fall. His critics vilify him as everything from a communist to a Nazi. What exactly has he done, or not done, to incur such wrath, and even death threats?
Foremost among his perceived sins is the attempt to introduce some form of state funded health care. This issue raises Americans to greater heights of passion than the stumbling economy and the war in Iraq combined. Those few able to articulate what it is that is so terrible about tax dollars being used for medical care, invoke the dreaded specter of socialism.
Everyone seems to accept having the state provide education for their children as a democratic right. Why then, do they recoil in horror at the idea of the government providing their sons and daughters with health care? Are our kids less entitled to good health than good education? Most western democracies have long embraced some form of government provided medical care, without concern that it is somehow socialistic, and wonder why Americans are so fearful of this aspect of it.
Are government medicare programs perfect? Those who rely on them would agree that they are far from it, but what is so wonderful about the private model? Few could argue that it provides good care to a majority of the population at a reasonable cost. The benefits received are in direct proportion to the premiums paid, and even those who can afford so-called 'catastrophic coverage' often end up financially crippled by illness. The right to good health depends directly on ability to pay, yet even those without adequate coverage still see state-run health care as somehow 'Un-American.'
While governments are rarely efficient at running a business, they do have the advantage of not having to pay dividends to share holders. Private means for profit, and the profits don't go to the patients. Health care is a two trillion-dollar a year industry, and those with a stake in it oppose anything that could affect the bottom line, and are likely the ones responsible for the fear-mongering.
It is time to put fear of the unknown aside, and take an unemotional and reasoned look at the pros and cons of both systems. Who knows, even if it does smack of socialism, Barack Obama may just have the right idea.