Health care reform has been a topic of interest in the United States for almost a century. After careful research, this author can expertly make several conclusions from a history steeped in resistance. This author firmly believes in the necessity of health care reform in the United States through two main rationales: morality and culture.
The United States has always prided itself in being a gracious and empathetic nation – one need look no further than the massive relief efforts in the destructive wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. However, this author questions the stiff and continued resistance to a health program which would benefit fellow countrymen. In 2008, researchers from the the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine conducted a survey which tallied deaths by country which they viewed preventable. The study claims to be an accurate measurement of health care effectiveness and responsiveness. Among the countries surveyed, France, Japan, and Australia – all of which employ a nationalized health care system – ranked in the top three.
The United States of America, which had 101,000 preventable deaths, ranked very last in the survey (Dunham, W 2008). This statistic should not only arouse America’s attention to the potential benefit of nationalized medicine, but also reveals an alarming lack of morality among the general population. In addition, some Americans are being denied coverage due to a preexisting condition. This author is afflicted by one such condition, and could not comprehend a life in which his daily treatments were not easily accessible. This author recognizes a disturbing trend plaguing the general public: the obsession with money. Are we as a country so consumed by consuming that we neglect the needs of fellow Americans? Do we place ‘things’, material possessions, above the health of our neighbors? Have we as a nation lost all sense of empathy?
Without a doubt, democracy in the United States is unique in every sense of the word. It allows for, among other traits, the common citizen to enact change, however miniscule, upon the political landscape. It is this feeling of empowerment that has been the catalyst behind some of the most successful and famous people, legislation, and events in the United States – it is a fundamental pillar upon which the country is built. However, the political culture in the United States has developed to a point at which any mention of a ‘government-run program’ leads to perpetual mistrust and anxiety.
Much of the public’s fear of nationalized medicine (or nationalized anything, really) stems from the Cold War; Americans were overloaded with anti-communism and anti-socialism propaganda – most of which originates with Joseph McCarthy. This anti-government sentiment was later fueled in part by the Watergate Scandal in the early 1970s and the successful presidency of Ronald Reagan – a man who championed a small government (“Joseph McCarthy: Biography”). This author does not attempt to overturn a cultural phenomenon pervasive for over half a century; only to simply implore the American public to immerse themselves in fact – legitimate studies and surveys – before taking a position on the necessity of health care reform, and, in a larger scope, the proper role of government. For example, take the 2007 World Health Organization’s rankings of health care systems from around the globe. As is consistent with the earlier study, countries which employ a major government funded health care program placed in the upper echelon. The United States, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, ranked 37th (World’s Best Medical Care?, 2007).
Detractors of health care reform designate the rising cost of taxes as the primary reason for their opposition. They cite the $1.6 trillion budget increase necessary to fund a governmental program as simply piling more debt onto an already far overloaded budget (Raising Taxes at Center, 2009). This concern especially strikes a chord for many lower-income Americans who simply cannot afford a tax increase. What these Americans have yet to comprehend, or simply do not wish to acknowledge, is that the tax burden will not fall on them. Instead, Americans who make over $200,000 annually will receive the tax increase to properly fund the new legislation. In addition, the increased taxation will lead to over $210 billion in revenue for the government, which will aid in budgeting funds for other sectors and programs administered in Washington (Grier, 2010).
After countless hours researching health care reform in the United States, this author has acquired a firm belief in the necessity for change. Although admittedly slanted to the left and biased due to a preexisting condition, this author has now entrenched his position forever in favor of health care reform – largely in part to the overwhelming data which details the many benefits of such an action. This author implores the public to disregard political ideology and simply empathize with fellow American families who need help in paying for health insurance. This author yields with one final sentiment, an adage which resounds emphatically in this situation: Do to others as you would have them do to you.