Let me tell you about a defining moment in my life.
A few years ago, I worked generating leads for a small health insurance brokerage. The pay was good, I was decent, and I liked doing it. So I decided to get my license and sell insurance.
I was cold calling people one day, talking to farmers and small businesses in southern Missouri when I called a man named Jim. Jim was a farmer, he had two kids, and his family had owned that land for something like two hundred and fifty years. That might be an exaggeration, but it seriously was a crazy number like that. Well, crazy for America, at least. Anyways, Jim had an eight year old son who had cancer. Luckily, Jim had health insurance and always paid his premiums, and Jim's son's life was saved. And they all lived happily ever after.
Well, that's how it should have gone.
Instead, Jim's insurance company, who he'd been insured through for twenty seven years, denied the son's cancer treatments, calling them experimental. So, Jim was actively looking to sell his farm to treat his son. They took up a collection at a local church and had some other fundraisers, but it wasn't enough. Cancer treatments are pricey. They were also fighting the insurance company, but they didn't have much hope of getting anywhere, and they feared it would take too long anyway.
Jim's son did get treatment, after he sold his farm and collected more money, but by then it was too late. He died.
When you live in a country like America, with wealth and riches and groundbreaking advances in medicine, you don't expect to hear something like that. You don't expect the reality of the fact that to insurance companies, you are an investment, and they don't want you if you're a bad one. You don't expect that someone would aid in keeping a kid from getting healthy, from seeing their ninth damn birthday, just because of the almighty dollar. That all happens somewhere else, right?
No. It happens here, way more often than you'd ever, ever imagine. It happens primarily to self insured people who run small businesses and farm, who are supposed the backbone of the nation. And in case you don't care about them, there's also the estimated 45 million Americans who have no insurance at all.
45 MILLION. That's an insane amount of people.
Also, let's take a look at the World Health Organization's ranking of the worlds health. Numbers go best to worst. In the interest of fairness, this was done in 2000. However, not much has improved since then.
3 San Marino
18 United Kingdom
26 Saudi Arabia
27 United Arab Emirates
36 Costa Rica
37 United States of America
This is why I believe that we need a government plan of action. President Obama's is explained here, here, and here.
Here's what I like about Obama's plan:
*Offers coverage to all
*Allows private insurance to compete (private insurance, though riddled with corruption currently, is a field that many people are employed through or by. Plus, some people are going to balk at anything involving health insurance and the government, and, hey...they aren't forced into anything. Good call. I also think the competition will help keep private insurance playing fair. They have to do better to hope to compete.)
*I like the idea of funding primarily from repealing tax cuts to the wealthy. The idea is great. But I'm pretty sure it, like everything else, won't be as crystal clear cut as all that.
*I LOVE that you couldn't be denied for a preexisting condition or assigned nine million riders on things. Right now, for me to get private insurance, it'd be about $90/month. I'm 27, non-smoking, 5'9" and 138 pounds, and in good health. That's with a $5000 deductible. Also, did I mention it wouldn't cover anything involving maternity, asthma, or anything related to migraines, since I've suffered them in the past, or anything involving the area where my C-section was? So I'd be paying for, well, not a whole lot. If I wasn't totally denied coverage based on the aforementioned health concerns.
What I don't like:
*It doesn't appear to be addressing medical malpractice. Medical malpractice insurance is RIDICULOUS and a large part of the reason that bills are also ridiculous.
*I'm not sure I really have heard much about the funding besides cutting unnecessary programs and repealing tax cuts. I'd like more information, please.
*I'm very against the idea of mandating that you must have insurance. I'd understand for kids, but I'm conflicted on the rest. I can see how it's better...people being uninsured is a huge issue that makes up another chunk of why we pay so much for health care. But I also think that we have choices, and if you're so against insuring your own health...well, that's you. Obama first said he wouldn't mandate it, but implied later that he wouldn't rule it out.
I don't have all of the answers concerning health care. I think Obama's on the right track, but, like I said, improvements could happen. I also think we need to be given a more realistic, less rose colored glasses view of things. But America doesn't, as a whole, like to hear the whole story. As country, we seem to only listen to a small portion of a plan, generally manipulated by some source (ie, Obama's plan is socialized health care) and then embellish and repeat it, over and over. Until we start, as a country, becoming more interested and less apathetic towards all things political, there's not much chance of us ever easily getting the whole story, though.