With President Obama’s latest speech to Congress, he pushes harder still to pass the latest concoction of healthcare reform. Despite his powerful rhetoric, there are still many details to his plan that have both conservatives and fiscally conservative Democrats worried about the bill. From the cost of the bill, to where the money will come from, and finally to how that money will be spent the argument is far from over.
But the real question is, how bad is America’s health care? Is it to the point where we need to take such a drastic measure as to wipe out the private system and build from the ground up with the public option? The answer is quite simply, no.
Health care in America is not that bad; in fact, one might argue, looking at statistics, it’s far better than that of many countries with a socialized system. For example, take the abundance of resources. MRIs and CTs, two scanning devices used more and more commonly in standard medical treatment are far more common in America than in countries with socialized systems. In fact, America has 27 MRI machines per million persons, while Canada and Britain, two countries with socialized health care, have only six MRI’s per million. A similar situation exists with CT machines, with 34 per million in America and only 12 per million in Canada and 8 per million in Britain. Clearly, on a purely resource level, we have the ability to treat a greater number of illnesses.
The other question is, what do the American people want? A June 2008 poll done by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 89 percent of Americans are happy with our healthcare system. Public Opinion Strategies, a polling organization, asked Americans if they “favor or oppose President Obama’s health care plan.” The numbers from this poll paint a clear picture: 25 percent favor and 37 percent oppose the plan, with 37 percent undecided and 1 percent who did not respond. Essentially, the majority would rather stick with the current health care situation.
Finally, let’s look at the price tag (which Obama claims will be 900 billion dollars), or more importantly, how that tag will be fulfilled. Obama plans to use major spending cuts from the current government health care system, Medicare and Medicaid, to help cover the cost of the public option. The irony here is: if the two government options already in place are having such issues with budgets and are places of waste, then how on earth is a much larger-scale, government-run health-care program going to stay on top? The private sector has the incentive to do well—to provide the best product for the best price to make a profit. That’s how capitalism works. The government doesn’t have that incentive and is simply willing to burn through taxpayers’ dollars. So, does the benefit of covering a small portion of people (as is the case now if and illegal immigrant goes to an ER) outweigh the cost? I don’t think so.
Does this all mean that our healthcare is perfect? By all means no—there is plenty of room for reform and design changes to the way it’s run. However, it is clear that, in Americans’ minds, privately-run health care is the way to go.