Simple Question Defines Complex Health Debate
By Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 24, 2008; A10
The defining difference between the Democratic presidential candidates on the top domestic issue in their recent debate and throughout the campaign has been their contrasting views on a seemingly simple question: Should the government require all Americans to have health insurance?
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) says yes, that such a requirement is essential for creating a system in which everyone has health coverage. Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) disagrees, arguing that the law should not force anyone to buy insurance he or she cannot afford.
The concept of an “individual mandate” became a lightning rod between the two yesterday. Obama said at an Ohio hospital that Clinton would “have the government force you to buy health insurance, and she said that she’d consider ‘going after your wages’ if you don’t,” while Clinton criticized her rival for “perpetuating falsehoods” and labeled an Obama mailing on the issue as “right out of Karl Rove‘s playbook.”
The individual mandate also is emerging as a dominant issue in the larger national debate about how best to overhaul the country’s ailing health-care system. It is a key component of both Massachusetts‘s landmark 2006 health insurance law and Clinton’s health-care plan, and was one of the most debated features of a failed plan by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to revamp health care in that state.
OK guys, listen up.
It is not the business of government to ‘require‘ every citizen to ‘have‘ health insurance, it is the business of government to ‘provide‘ it. The reason Americans are uninsured has nothing at all to do with requiring and everything to do with affording.
The 45 million uninsured in this country, is sure to grow to 100 million as
- credit fraud pulls the homes and savings out from under additional tens of millions and
- the galloping increases in the cost of care further distances itself from wages
Obama and Clinton are both unwilling to wrestle this beast to the ground and hog-tie it. Change doesn’t mean a damned thing if we merely talk about changing the pecking order of myriad private interests sucking off the tit of the health industry.
Industry. What should be a profession has been made to follow the industrial model of insurers, actuaries, boards, committees, primary providers, secondary providers, intermediary billing services, tens of thousands of people whose only job is to represent private profit and tens of thousands of people whose only job is to decline coverage.
In our consumer oriented, quarterly-profit motivated business model, we have organized health care in America to provide the minimum of care at the maximum cost.
That is what avoiding ‘single payer‘ has cost us and that is not an opinion.
(Wikipedia) The U.S. spends more on health care, both as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) and on a per-capita basis, than any other nation in the world. Current estimates put U.S. health care spending at approximately 15% of GDP, the world’s highest. The health share of GDP is expected to continue its historical upward trend, reaching 19.6 percent of GDP by 2016.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2000 ranked the U.S. health care system first in both responsiveness and expenditure, but 37th in overall performance and 72nd by overall level of health (among 191 member nations included in the study).
The CIA World Factbook ranked the United States 41st in the world for lowest infant mortality rate and 45th for highest total life expectancy.
Essentially, we’re there first to provide the least. And there we will remain until the system goes the way of the automobile and steel industries (built on this same model) and we are finally left to import our health care from Japan, Korea and China.