Health Care – What is it, anyway?
Sep 16th, 2009
President Obama gave a great speech to Congress a week ago, following up with a with even a stronger defense of his health care ideas yesterday in a speech to the AFL-CIO. Great arguments, great passion and a great show of resolve. Not much change, however; not even close to the kind of change I voted for. Don’t get me wrong. I strongly support health insurance reform, but the president and congress will bring no sanity to a needlessly complex, expensive and cruel system.
I was disappointed that the president ducked the opportunity to define American Health Care and instead left us with a mish-mash of fixes to the current system. Reform is not in the details, Mr. Obama; it requires rethinking of the issue; seeing the big picture. By failing to set a defining base of what health care can and should be, the president has played right into the hands of those who profit most from preserving the status quo.
Alternative Visions of Health Care
Health care can be thought of as infrastructure. Like our interstate highway system, it promotes our defense and progress as a nation. We need healthy people to defend our land and to provide the spirit and energy that promotes innovation and competition. That provides a great practical argument for expanding existing insurance programs to cover everyone. There are a number of different ways to structure this. The basic idea is that your health is a vital national interest; not just something useful to a full-time employer.
But we can do better. I believe that good health should be declared a constitutional right. Like privacy, it is a necessary condition for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” In order to protect that right, the government has a responsibility to insure that all of its citizens have access to good health care.
No one should die because they cannot afford health care, no one should go broke because they get sick, and no one’s child should miss a doctor’s appointment because it costs too much.
Let’s add that everyone should get good preventive care to prevent disease before expensive treatment becomes necessary. I’m talking about free, regular medical checkups for everyone! Then a combination of public and reformed private insurance to cover the costs of hospital stays, surgeries, therapy and long term disability.
Can we afford this? Yes! Of course we can. Done right, cost savings and productivity gains will be huge. But even so, what’s so wrong with raising some taxes; or perhaps, ending one of our very expensive wars.