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Changing Heart about Health Insurance

August 27, 2008

For the first time in years, fewer Americans lack health insurance, although most of them are kids. That isn’t a bad thing. What is bad, however, is the fact that the health insurance issue in this country isn’t about to go away, at least not yet.

For years, this writer has firmly held that the old capitalistic business model of health insurance has been the best way to go. The less government involvement the better, I always used to say. The years of change in my life coupled with realization that the old way of doing things as Corporate America simply drains away employment from the American community in wholesale fashion has brought this writer to a change of heart. It hasn’t been easy giving up the old strongholds and convictions. However, the idealistic notion that the health care business model will continue to work for the country is simply a mind game that’s time has passed.

Whether the government’s concept of cradle-to-grave health care is a good one or not doesn’t matter. What does matter is that America no longer continues to limp along on the same half-baked ideas that simply don’t work. Allowing a semi-nationalized health care model that government ends up paying for anyway doesn’t work either. The whole concept of America’s health care has become so adulterated that a decision must be made to create a new model.

Government has increasingly picked up the tab, sometimes the entire cost of insuring children in order to achieve coverage. To many political mindsets, this idea is a disaster. The real disaster isn’t the idea that children or even more senior citizens are covered with adequate or minimal health care options. The real disaster is that the health care system that America has championed for years has devolved to the sad state of confusion and disrepair. All Americans seem to do is fight and worry about whether they can get any kind of help for even the most basic of health care. Even a minor health problem can put a family out in the streets in some households. Paying for that health care is many cases is increasingly a problem for larger blocks of the economy.

The slightly-improved health care numbers recently advertised by the U.S. Census Department doesn’t mean this country has an improvement in the health care system. Any improvement comes entirely from government-funded insurance programs based on the Medicare model that politicians are shivering about when it comes down to the nation’s long-term deficit. Whether this is sustainable for the long-term or not will come a crisis status in a few years.

The reality is that health care insurance doesn’t mean good insurance or even reasonable coverage. Health insurance doesn’t necessarily mean real protection of any kind, either against devastating medical bills or a guarantee of any care. Underinsurance has become a national issue for at least25 million American adults on top of the 45 million that don’t have insurance at all out of a total of 304 million Americans.

You can doubt the national statistics as skewed since so many government statistics really are, or at least useless to count on when the going gets tough. Figures project that nearly 70 million Americans or 23% have it tough as they function daily, living on the edge of a financial knife. The numbers are likely to be much higher.

Assuming that they can manage to get the care they need, uninsured Americans don’t have the benefit of an insurance agreement and are charged full-price for their care, whether they can afford to pay for it or not. Supposedly, uninsured Americans pay $30 billion dollars for out-of-pocket expenses yearly for the privilege of health care. Who is actually paying for this health care is not revealed by statistics. Yet, in spite of all the money laid on the table, the U.S. Government still picks up the tab for $56 billion in uncompensated health care costs every year.

Because less Americans are gainfully employed, employment-linked health care coverage for 160 million Americans has reportedly dropped ½ of a percent between 2006 and 2007. Whether the nation is headed for lower numbers remains to be seen.

The reality is the American health care system does not have supportable coverage which is something that must change. Politicians have been proposing all kinds of solutions for health care for years. Americans with the power to buy insurance have been afraid of the potential disaster. However, the national situation has changed over the last decade. With that change has arrived the possibility that a new approach to health care is the only answer, whether a particular person or party thinks that change will be better or not. The nation is approaching an impasse. The wealthy anywhere in the world will always have private health care if they want it. This reality doesn’t deal with the reality of most Americans as they struggle to make ends meet and keep their lives operational. ~E. Manning

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