Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: A Healthcare Saga

Back in 2009, then President Barack Obama proposed and Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On the seventh anniversary of its passing, the Republicans in Congress are still trying to repeal the ACA having attempted more than 50 times. The Republicans latest attempt was the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The AHCA would have repealed parts of the ACA that were part of the federal budget including the individual and employee mandates, changes to Medicaid, and the repeal of taxes on Cadillac policies and medical equipment.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the number of people with health insurance would be reduced by 24 million over the next nine years with a savings of $150 billion over a decade. Insurance premiums would go up, but would supposedly be offset by grants by 2020. Insurance companies could charge as much as five times more for premiums for older people than younger ones.

The good news is the expenditures for Social Security would decrease $3 billion from 2017-2026 due to early death. Even better news, Planned Parenthood would get less for birth control, so that means teen pregnancy would be on the rise. Less old people and more out-of-wedlock pregnancies is what the AHCA would bring us.

Thankfully for now the Republicans have failed miserably. Republicans can’t manage to get the votes in the House. The Senate would be just as difficult.

At least three presidents in modern history have now staked their legacy on healthcare at the beginning of their administrations (Clinton, Obama, and Trump). Of the three, only President Obama was able to pass a bill a healthcare. Why is this?  The answer is politicians are making it too complicated.

The problem could be summed up in two words: universal healthcare

Go ahead and scream “socialism”! Make broad-brush comparisons to Europe where people are taxed heavily. Are you done? Then let’s look at the facts.

Twenty-four countries have universal healthcare around the world. Which countries are they? (hint: they are not all in Europe)

Besides Canada and most of Europe, other countries that have universal healthcare include Israel, Chile, Turkey, Australia, Japan and South Korea. Well these all must be socialist countries as well right? Wrong. In fact none of the countries listed are socialist, they instead treat healthcare as a human right instead of a privilege.

In South Korea for instance, the premium is shared 6.12% of the employee’s gross earnings shared between the employee and employer. If you are self-employed or unemployed you can purchase health insurance. The elderly are provided insurance by the government at a reduced rate or at no cost of they are indigent. A person can walk into a doctor’s office or hospital and get seen whenever they need to. 

The United States has a population of over 300 million people and many of them could now afford healthcare before the ACA. While the ACA is not perfect, we need to continue to push to reform it and eventually turn it into a universal healthcare system where no one is turned away from a hospital and no one has to go bankrupt to get medical care.

Update: HR 676 has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would give Medicare to all. Currently 116 Democrats are not co-sponsoring the bill. If one of your representatives is on the list please call them.

tagged as: medicine, , universal healthcare