By April K. Hunter
This is a different kind of article on healthcare, one written from a business perspective.
In order for Obamacare to be sustainable, Sarah Lueck states in the New York Times that there must be a mix of healthy and sick enrollees to adequately spread costs. Read her claim here: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/08/24/is-obamacare-sustainable/insurers-must-recalibrate-premiums-and-costs.
While a free market economy works well in many avenues, it has no place in American healthcare. Simply put, health should not be available for profit. There is no amount a parent wouldn’t spend to save their child. While The Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction, it didn’t go far enough. Lueck notes that despite the federal analysis of insurers’ data, which indicates that the balance of risk actually improved, some insurers have still incurred substantial financial losses and are leaving the marketplaces. She feels the answer to this problem is “to further increase the risk pool by pushing for raising enrollment, especially of healthy people” (Lueck, 2016). She also suggests more states should adopt the expansion of Medicaid to reduce the amount of uninsured.
Medicaid is a version of single-payer healthcare. It’s coverage for people made available once they reach a certain age. Most countries use a form of this type of healthcare for everybody, regardless of age. There’s a valid reason no other country in the world uses the complicated and costly version of privatized healthcare the United States does (Fisher, 2012). It’s morally and ethically dubious to earn trillions off disease, life-saving medications, and surgeries.
Additionally, most countries rank higher than the United States for being healthier, with more preventative care in place, and the overall cost per person is significantly lower. The United States spends over 17% of its GDP on healthcare, which is 50% more than France, the next most expensive country, and almost double of what was spent in the United Kingdom (Commonwealthfund.org, 2015). The solution isn’t to push for more Obamacare enrollments in order to appease insurance companies whose only job is to deny care and raise prices. The solution is to abolish insurance companies altogether and implement a constitutional amendment which allows for a single payer system covered by taxes. As much as everyone hates a tax increase, we can expect an increase to be less expensive than what most pay now in combined costs of deductibles, co-pays, premium coverage and inflated prescription prices (Mintz, 2004).
Single-payer healthcare (otherwise known as universal healthcare coverage) offers enormous benefits to businesses by slashing operating costs. Companies would pay substantially less in taxes than their expenditures for costly employee health insurance (Mintz, 2004). It would help level the playing field since corporations outside the United States don’t have the same expenses to contend with (Mintz, 2004). Employers would no longer have to pay for coverage under workers’ compensation which adds up to billions spent each year. Auto insurance rates would drop if insurers were no longer liable for medical bills (Mintz, 2004). Without healthcare costs, companies could afford to hire more employees, which creates a better economy, and smaller businesses would have an enhanced chance to thrive. “The cost of employee health insurance has become a significant factor in the employment slump, as the labor market adds only a trickle of new jobs each month” (Mintz, 2004). Yet, despite all the advantages, corporations mostly shun the universal healthcare option, even though there is evidence that taxpayers would willingly support it. Companies have found that healthcare is such a vital issue to Americans, it’s being used as leverage to keep them tied to jobs they’re unhappy doing.
The high cost of medical care deeply affects America’s economy. In 1981, 8% of Americans filed for bankruptcy due to medical causes and expenses. Twenty years later, that number escalated to 62%. By 2007, Dr. David Himmelstein’s study revealed “…an American family filed bankruptcy every 90 seconds in the aftermath of illness, and medical bankruptcies reached 69.1%.” (Himmelstein, 2007) Dr. Himmelstein’s studies found that most medical debtors were well educated and middle class, with three quarters having health insurance. (Himmelstein, 2007). The largest expenses are hospital bills, prescription drugs, premiums, medical equipment, and nursing homes. According to the World Health Organization, the costliest afflictions include neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, asthma and COPD, mental illness and mood disorders, hepatitis C, diabetes, injuries, joint disorders, autism, stroke, hemophilia, neonatal problems, HIV, dementia and heart conditions (Whelan, 20012 & Anderson, 2016).
Despite being mandatorily insured by The Affordable Care Act, popularly referred to as Obamacare, Americans are still forced to find workarounds for injuries, illnesses, and disorders. In the current healthcare system, they are not patients. They are customers. With Obamacare, Americans have to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket deductibles before health insurance kicks in to keep costs down. Due to those deductibles, local clinics are popping up everywhere. People can now use a lower cost alternative for many options, such as wasp stings, bronchitis or a broken bone, which is stealing a lot of business away from hospitals. “Hospital operators are now facing a classic “innovator’s dilemma”. If they persist with their high-cost business model, even as their customers discover that cheaper alternatives are good enough, they will be in trouble” (Christensen, 2015). The result? Hospital closures and lost jobs.
Too many in the system are completely left behind. The Affordable Care Act fails to insure 30 million Americans, which is almost 10% of the population. Single payer would close that gap, saving a lot of money and resources spent in administration with the current health care system. Gerald Friedmund, Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, estimates a single payer system would save 600 billion dollars the first year. “Right now, Americans pay on average $6,000 a year per person, that includes everybody, for health insurance” (Saintanto, 2016). Additionally, limitations would be abolished. Americans would no longer be allowed only a certain amount of doctors’ visits per year. They’d get what they need.
Good health is essential to enjoying life, liberty and pursuing happiness. No one should die or go bankrupt because they can’t afford to take care of themselves. No one should be bound to a job they despise because it provides health benefits for their family. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
April K. Hunter is a television writer, short story author, copywriter, blogger, and primarily writes thrillers and memoirs. She attends Full Sail University for her bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing for Entertainment. Her work appears in a variety of publications, including RxMuscle, Page & Spine, Medium, and European Journal FONT. Her first book, UNDISCLOSED DARKNESS can be found on Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.
A model and pro wrestler, she’s currently a part-time superhero at geek conventions, Mother of Chickens and owned by one spoiled rotten corgi. When not crafting stories, she is learning something new each day or scouring the internet for funny memes while drinking too much coffee.
Anderson, L. PhD. (2016, September 6). Money, money, money: The ten most expensive medical conditions to treat. Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/slideshow/money- money-the-10-most-expensive-conditions-to-treat-1123
Christensen, C. (2016, Sept 17). Shock treatment. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/news/business/21645741-wasteful-and-inefficient-industry-throes-great-disruption-shock-treatment
Commonwealthfund.org (2015) U.S. healthcare from a global perspective. Retrieved from http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2015/oct/us-health-care-from-a-global-perspective
Fisher, M. (2012, June 28). Here’s a map of countries that provide universal healthcare. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/06/heres-a-map-of-the-countries-that-provide-universal-health-care-americas-still-not-on-it/259153/
Himmelstein, D. & Thorn, D. & Warren, E. & Woodhandler, S. (2007). Medical bankruptcy in the United States: Results of a national study. Retrieved from http://www.pnhp.org/new_bankruptcy_study/Bankruptcy-2009.pdf
Lueck, S. (2016, August 24). Insurers must recalibrate insurance premiums and costs. Retrieved August 30, 2016 from http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/08/24/is-obamacare-sustainable/insurers-must-recalibrate-premiums-and-costs
*Mintz, M. (2004, Oct 28). Single payer: Good for business. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.oclc.fullsail.edu:81/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=5ca52a42-7de9-4b87-b790-776c79a5172c%40sessionmgr4010&vid=6&hid=4107
Sainato, M. (2016, Jan 19). An economist breaks down single payer healthcare. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-sainato/an-economist-breaks-down-_b_9018098.html
Whelan, D. (2012, Feb 25) The 10 most expensive common medical conditions. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidwhelan/2012/02/25/the-10-most-expensive-common-medical-conditions/#6eaaf3fe5a1d