Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Can We Define Universal Health Care, Please?

Nobody really knows what the other person is talking about when a debate about universal healthcare ensues. Proponents tend to mean affordable healthcare for all. Opponents usually mean taxpayer funded healthcare for all. While I do not disagree that everyone should have access to healthcare, especially in the greatest nation in the world (sorry, World, but you know it's true), I am of the opinion that there are other available options besides the United States government--meaning taxpayers--fronting the bill.

One of the biggest problems with the current healthcare system, excluding the abortion that is Medicare/Medicaid, is the constant threat of lawsuit that physicians face. Doctors are forced to run costly, unnecessary tests because if they don't and send someone home with a prescription for Ibuprofen and that person gets in an accident, the doctor is now liable. It is similar to bartenders being liable if someone leaves their establishment drunk and then kills another person. Tort reform must occur if there is any hope of fixing the healthcare behemoth. While not everyone agrees with me that lawsuits are a last resort that should be avoided, hopefully most people CAN agree that frivolous lawsuits have become much too prevalent in our society. There are more injury lawyers on television than reality TV contestants these days.

The second thing that needs to be considered is that not everyone deserves healthcare. At least it seems that way. People with health insurance have gotten so used to the idea of affordable healthcare that they rush to the doctor's office at the slightest sniffle, cough, or rash. In the same way that cell phone texting seems to be dumbing down grammar, the current healthcare system is turning us into a nation of hypochondriacs. Policies need to change to prevent people from abusing the system in such a way. When a test or drug is needed, doctors AND patients need to be in the habit of finding the most inexpensive option, not just the most commonly prescribed option, in an effort to cut costs.

Lastly, affordable healthcare only becomes affordable when competition is encouraged. Wal-Mart is already one of the greatest healthcare carriers in the world, with hundreds if not thousands of affordable generic drugs offered. Unfortunately, powerful lobbyists in Washington prevent this sort of competition from taking root by demanding government grants specifically for their company. When special interests are put above the common interest, the peoples' interests, we ALL lose.

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