This is an article I wrote in September, 2009. It may not be quite as relevant today as it was then, but I felt the need to share it. Enjoy!
As the heated debate about healthcare reform drags on, it’s easy to get caught up in the misinformation campaigns being waged by both sides. Whether your nerves are exposed by the thought of illegal immigrants receiving free health services, or by the idea of the government being in direct competition with private insurance companies for customers, the fight can be as confusing as it is ugly.
What is being missed as far as the average American is concerned is how runaway insurance premiums have affected the “average” family. These are the two-paycheck, heavily mortgaged, scrapping for grocery money families that seem to be getting hit from every direction. Not included would be politicians – the same politicians that are deciding what is best for YOU – because they have a fairly comprehensive program available to them from what I’ve read. Maybe another bit of misinformation…probably not.
If you are fortunate enough to have group health coverage where you work, count yourself among the dwindling number of Americans with that luxury. Many corporate cost cutting efforts in recent years have involved increasing employee insurance plan deductibles, reducing benefits, and eliminating coverage altogether. But being lucky enough to still have coverage can be a double-edged sword, with smaller employer contributions making it difficult for some to afford their portion of the premium. For those who don’t qualify for group coverage (like the self-employed) premiums border on the ridiculous and coverage can be sparse at best.
Whatever ends up happening, the current healthcare structure needs to be retooled. If a family is paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month for average healthcare coverage, they are NOT spending that money on other things, thereby slowing the economy. They are paying money in anticipation of getting sick. If they stay healthy, they have nothing to show for their investment. If they do need their insurance, high deductibles can be enough to break their financial back. Sure, there are Americans that have great insurance at little or no cost to them (lucky!), but they are countered by the millions of Americans…real Americans – born and raised…that are completely without coverage because they had to choose between feeding their kids and gambling with their health. Not so simple, is it?
Our politicians need to work on creating a model of national healthcare that takes the best of existing programs, adds of touch of American wisdom, and becomes the envy of the world. Not a system of entitlement, but an affordable option for every American. The key is the word option. If you are happy where you are, you shouldn’t have to change. If you’re spending more on insurance than your house payment, it would be nice to have a better option.