For a person of my age to worry about health care is a sign that our system has prominent issues. It's hard not to notice when people in your family land themselves in hundreds to thousands of dollars of medical debt or completely avoid care for easily preventable illnesses. Even I have had bouts of excruciating pain and thought that if even if I passed out, I couldn't afford going to the emergency room. This is reality, and for other families in the United States, the situation is so much worse. The health care system in America is unlike any other, but not in a good way. The mix of public and private health care along with high healthcare costs had lead to this dysfunctional system present today.
The American health care system has two major working parts: Medicare and the private sector.
This two tier system leads to wide variations in cost, as each hospital, provider and drug company have their own prices and each individual insurance company will negotiate prices. This is why there's competition between companies, and the problems begin there. Theoretically, this system should be ideal, but it is not. Health care is a not a system built for competition, because when someone is in an emergency, they don't stop to think about which hospital or doctor will serve them.
Competition also does not reduce the cost of health care in America, because according to The Commonwealth Fund, the United States ranks dead last among industrialized nations, like the U.K. and Canada, for costs that are twice their amounts. The higher cost does not equate to higher quality, and we rank last overall. The higher cost does not help those without insurance, as they face the worst situation out of all citizens. 36,000 people die each year due to a lack of insurance, and if the Affordable Care Act is repealed and not effectively replaced, that number could increase.
So if our current system does not function effectively, what solutions should we push?
Our Congress has two types of solutions at the moment: privatization of bills (such as the American Health Care Act, AHCA, and the Better Care Reconciliation Act, BCRA) and universal health care, such as the Medicare For All Act (MRAA).
Privatization simply allows for more competition and deregulation, which can prove extremely deadly. For all its faults, the AHCA protects those with preexisting conditions and those in life-threatening situations from being cut-off their insurance. Removing regulations like those can make people who desperately need care choose to not seek it out. Not to mention, the goal of a private system is profit, with 18 percent of costs going to administration and three percent to net profits.
Medicare For All may prove to be the best solution left over from the group of bills.
The main benefit of this program is that no one is left out, and every single American will receive care, regardless of status, so no one needs to pay health care bills. That sounds great, but to some, this seems like a far fetched dream. I understand this opinion, but there are many things America can do to save money. In this system, there is only one health care plan, the government. This means that all negotiation is run by them. There is no network, just the entire nation. Prescription drugs, hospitals and providers will all have more reasonable costs, and you will never live to see the bill, deductible or co-pay.
Overhead costs are only three percent, according to data on Medicare, which is the best example of this system we have. No profit is made from this system either, meaning the sole purpose is to serve the people. Taxes will need to increase for the rich, and any ridiculous subsidies will probably be eliminated. Even then, taxes will increase on the majority of the populous, but one must remember that there are no extra costs (like medical bills) to individual.
Problems like waiting lists can be an issue but only for elective procedures, as seen in our neighbor to the north, Canada. The thing about waiting lists is that since there is no network to restrict the patient, resources can be more evenly distributed. There will be problems in this system that may be unforeseen, but there is no reason to not consider it, at the very least.
I am a strong believer in Medicare For All, and I believe that it is the way forward for our health care system. A better health care system means a better America. When you can go to the doctor and not worry about costs, just your condition, healing can be made so much easier without all that stress. I see no reason for Medicare For All to be shunned or not discussed. It should be an active part of the health care discussion, and this is something we should care about as a nation.