Health Insurance is expensive for two reasons. One, some medications and treatments are very costly and the need for them is increasing as the populous grows. Two, because even though the availability of proficient health insurance determines quality of life, it has become a controlling business that seeks to make a profit.
The Value of Health Care
When health care insurance was first introduced to America in the mid 1800’s, the federal government provided a health care budget that allowed everyone free health care including hospital expenses. The populous grew as did the need for more health care workers and a more proficient healthcare system.
Abraham Flexner reported in 1910 to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching that America needed to teach and train more efficient and qualified doctors and nurses. He also stressed the need for more in-depth research and treatment programs for prevalent diseases that were increasing among the people. This led to a significant increase in the research budget between 1920 and 1950, but little change in the public health budget.
The populous grew and so did the health care needs but the federal budget did not, so the people had to start paying a portion of their own health care. Patients who could afford to pay got preferential treatment over those who could not, creating a status separation between the two. This lack of care led to the spreading of infectious diseases.
Time passed and technology increased giving scientists the ability to study and research the many threatening diseases and develop preventative programs. However, it was still only the wealthy who could afford to pay the expensive doctors and surgeons, or kidney dialysis machines or chemo treatments.
Health care as a profit
The federal government was concerned over the health issues, but directed a greater amount of the budget towards research and treatment of diseases. Many people fell ill and businesses suffered because of a shortage of employees. Some big businesses offered their employees a basic health insurance plan as a means to keep them healthy and this soon spread across the country.
By the 1980’s, the all-in-one plan of the 1950’s was changed to comprise specific needs such as eye care, dental care, prescriptions and select treatments. Each section was calculated with the considerations of the costs of technology, treatments, preventative treatments and professional medical staff. Unfortunately, these costs increased constantly and forced many employees out of the plans because they couldn’t afford them, and many businesses out because they couldn’t afford to offer them.
The responsibility of healthcare insurance went from the government to the employer and has now become a thriving profitable business for insurance companies.
In 2005, Peter Jennings wrote a documentary on America’s healthcare system entitled, Breakdown: America’s Healthcare Crisis. He reports the dangers of the high cost of healthcare and how it will impact businesses. He concludes that one third of all Americans are not covered with health care insurance, and says it’s not only due to the high cost but it’s because of the control given to insurance companies.
Even people who can afford the ever-increasing prices can’t always get it. In most states, health insurance companies can turn down applicants who suffer from even the most common medical problems, like allergies and acne.
And unfortunately, insurance companies have not only been given the authority to choose their applicants, they have also been given the right to set their own prices. So, what was once considered a necessity for quality of life is now a flourishing business for the wealthy.
Maybe it’s time for health care reform.