As important as this “debate” is, I know I am tired of it. In fact this topic is almost too wearisome to write about since it is in the news every day now, and dominated by bickering between the political careerists. The bottom line in my mind is that the system of health care delivery we currently have is broken. Too much of the money spent goes to companies and people who really define what a “middleman” is. Consequently, unless you are wealthy enough to buy your own insurance or lucky enough to have an employer that provides it, you may have to go without. But, as employers realize they can no longer subsidize health insurance premiums to the extent they have in the past, more people will be unable to afford coverage. At one large employer in my community that offers health insurance benefits, the cost to the employee to insure themselves, their spouse, and one child is over $350 per month. This is a company where over 2/3’s of the employees earn less than $1,500 per month in take home pay. Some of these employees were lucky enough to get approved for The Oregon Health Plan because they can not afford their “employer provided” health care plan, but many of them just go without. Another inherent difficulty in subscribing to employer provided health insurance is that the cost is the same for every employee. A $350 premium may be impossible for a $9 per hour person to pay, but a drop in the bucket for a person making $50,000 a year.
Unfortunately, because of the fear of another 1993 result where nothing was done to change the system, a compromise of some sort is almost guaranteed this time around. This compromise may really accomplish very little in true change, but will allow the politicians to pat themselves on the back, say “aren’t we great”, and go back to business as usual for another 10 or 15 years.
All of the other wealthy countries in the world long ago subscribed to the idea that we are indeed our brother’s, (and sister’s), keeper and so provide basic health care to all their citizens. In the U.S., our culture is so deeply rooted in the idea of independence rather than interdependence and self reliance instead of a sense that we should help take care of each other, that many will do anything to prevent us from reforming our broken health care system. This is why you hear screams of universal coverage being socialism. Really? Do these screamers even know what socialism is? Would having a system of universal coverage, even if you call it socialized medicine, really make the U.S. a socialist country?