The United States of America, in spite of being an economic superpower also carries the notoriety for exorbitant healthcare costs and disproportionately poor health outcomes for patients. Moreover, the present healthcare system is so structured that the world wide economic recession in progress is bound to have serious consequences for the healthcare industry as well. The new healthcare system being proposed will attempt to tackle these obvious problems while also suggesting improvements for making healthcare delivery more efficient. The other centerpiece of the proposal is to make health insurance affordable for all Americans so that it serves as an extension of social security in times of distress.
At present health insurance coverage of American citizens is covered by their employers, which puts them in danger of losing insurance along with their jobs. With the global economic recession more acute here in theU.S., the country has seen unprecedented numbers of job losses in the last few months. Not since the Great Depression of the 1930s did the nation confront such a disaster. It is true that a comprehensive revamp of the healthcare system at a time of economic turmoil is not practically feasible. But research conducted by the Commonwealth Fund indicates that extending insurance coverage to all American citizens would only cost an additional $104 billion for the federal government. While this may seem a huge sum in isolation, it is significantly smaller compared to the $700 billion rescue plan that the new President got ratified by Congress. In other words, my proposal for a new healthcare system endorses the implementation of the promised “universal healthcare” plan of Barack Obama. Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman also supports this proposal and adds that “it is true that the cost of universal health care will be a continuing expense, reaching far into the future. But that has always been true…and the temporary expenses of his stimulus plan shouldn’t change that calculation” (Krugman, 2009).
This $104 billion proposal for universal health insurance coverage would have the added benefit of stimulating the economy. In other words, the proposed tax-cuts as part of the Obama Administration’s stimulus package could instead be substituted with health insurance provisions for American citizens across the socio-economic spectrum, thereby solving two problems at once – health care and economic crisis. And more importantly, by virtue of being applicable across social, economic and racial divisions, the plan would not favor a particular community of class but promote equality (Krugman, 2009).
Another way of significantly the problems of the existing system is to bring health care under the Social Security bracket. In other words, a Medicare system for all American citizens is a plausible alternative to the coverage provided by private insurance companies which are more intent on making profits than serving the public. This not-for-profit health care system will put an end to the profiteering indulged in by insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and even hospitals (www.americanhealthcarereform.org, 2009). And the timing for nationalizing healthcare could not have been more appropriate. Nearly eighty years ago, as the country was reeling under the worst bout of economic depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced the New Deal to the general public, whose major component being Social Security and Medicare. At a time whenAmerica is hit by its next major economic crisis, transforming the ailing system into a nationalized and single-payer system would carry historical symbolism. Indeed,Roosevelt was able to “enact Social Security in part because the Great Depression highlighted the need for a stronger social safety net. And the current crisis presents a real opportunity to fix the gaping holes that remain in that safety net, especially with regard to health care.” (Krugman, 2009)
So, the aforementioned proposals for change would significantly reduce the problems of high-premium costs of private health insurance and corporate profiteering at the cost of public health and welfare. Of course, such a sweeping change to the healthcare system will not be without its attendant hurdles. The chief among them would be the corporate lobby inWashingtonD.C., which is even bent on privatizing Social Security. There will also be the initial costs toward logistics and administration of the new system, which will have to be borne by the federal government. But if these teething problems are seen through then we have the pleasing prospect of a more efficient and people friendly healthcare system here inAmerica.
Krugman Paul, January 29, 2009, Healthcare Now, retrieved from <www.nytimes.com/2009/01/30/opinion/30krugman.html> on 15th February 2009
Healthcare Reform, retrieved from < http://www.americanhealthcarereform.org/> on February 15, 2009.