One of the things which seems to have ended up on the back burner in the midst of all this fuss over the economic crisis* is health care. Don’t you remember those quaint days during the debates when the candidates got some back and forth going over healthcare, calling it “the biggest issue” America was facing? And now, nary a peep.
Only, the healthcare problem isn’t going away. In fact, it’s getting much worse, because when millions of people lose their jobs, they also lose health insurance coverage (if they were lucky enough to have it), and the ability to pay for healthcare.
Just like people defer maintenance on their cars and houses, they’re deferring maintenance on their bodies, because they have no choice. And this means that we have a huge, looming problem which is going to be blowing up in our faces very, very soon. People with conditions which could be easily treated now are going to be ending up in emergency rooms because they will leave their medical issues untreated, and they will get worse, and worse, and worse, until they finally break down and seek help. And then, when they can’t pay, the hospital will be out money, and a chain reaction is going to occur.
Healthcare needs to be a priority right now, more so than ever before, in my opinion. We need to figure out a way to make this work, and it needs to be nationalized and single-payer. Fixing healthcare will help to fix the economy, and it will also prevent the emergence of future problems.
This isn’t just a selfish desire for healthcare on my part. It’s really just simple economics: it costs all of us less to cover all Americans fully. For one thing, the single payer system could be used for negotiating clout, with the government getting the best prices on things because it’s paying for them in bulk. The system would also be much more streamlined; when you go to the doctor’s on a single payer, nationalized system, you can get rid of insurance companies and their cut of the proceeds, and you can cut down dramatically on billers and other financial staffers.
Furthermore, by having such a system, we could promote preventative care, which would cut down dramatically on the burden being shouldered by emergency services right now. It would be easy to stay healthy, and to address problems early, and this would mean that non-paying customers wouldn’t be getting treatment at emergency rooms for conditions which had ballooned into epic, epic problems. Incentive programs for patients and doctors who stay healthy/maintain healthier than average patients are working in many other nations to cut costs considerably, and that’s something we should be doing.
Some reforms also need to occur: we clearly need more urgent care clinics and walk in facilities, but I think that the need for such facilities might start to decline if people had regular doctors whom they saw on a regular basis. And, of course, regular doctors could work with their patients to manage existing conditions, to head off problems at the pass, and to provide health education for life.
Things like this should not be happening in a civilized nation.
*Happy now, Tristan?!