The turn of events brought by the crisis in the US has shown the world how the economic state of a nation could affect not just the financial position of its’ people and institutions, but ultimately all other aspects that touch on their existence, some of which are the environment, safety from terrorism and all attacks, and health.
Tackling the current health crisis, history would show that the government has been shouldering the bulk of the nation’s health care costs but the only ones benefitting from this are not even the people but rather private insurers and hospitals, drug companies, and other intermediate bodies that profit from the health and medical business.
Witnessing the people’s burgeoning distress over health concerns during these desperate times, the Obama administration recently announced a reform on the nation’s health care plan. The main objective of this reform is to make health care more affordable so as to increase medical insurance coverage throughout the nation. In line with this objective, the administration has unveiled their plan to “offer a federal, Medicare-like insurance plan to anyone, at any age and let commercial insurers offer their private health plans alongside it” (Abelson 2009).
This plan, if efficiently and effectively executed, would not only allow health assistance to those who previously could not afford it but also create a revolution in the health care industry by forcing them to increase transparency and to revamp their health plans to those that justify the price and are capable of “protecting patients with chronic diseases from excessive copayments and banning a practice by some plans that can add even more to the costs of brand name drugs” (AP 2009).
There is no doubt that the government can drive down the prices for their federal health plans. In fact, Karen Davis, the President of the Commonwealth Fund estimates that “the average premium for a family of four would run around $9,000 a year under a public plan, in contrast to nearly $11,000 for a typical private alternative… the savings to the nation’s health care bill over the next decade could run into the trillions of dollars” (Abelson 2009).
Moreover, the proposed health plan reform involves granting further assistance to those who already have pre-existing conditions, tax credits and other incentives for business that provide health coverage for their employers, and provide cheaper medicines among other benefits (The White House website 2009).
A concern here, however, is how any private health insurer or for-profit health institution or professional could compete with the proposed federal health coverage that the government shall offer. And if these private and for-profit bodies fail to keep up with their public competition, a worrisome thought is how the resulting shutdown of these private entities and consequent unemployment of its staff could add more burden to the current economic crisis.
As with any available option, the health plan reform poses several pros and cons, but with the cons mostly on the effect on its private competitors and not on the people who avail of the proposed federal plans.
On one hand, offering a federal health plan that competes with those of private insurers and for-profit institutions is almost tantamount to the government stretching its hand to intervene in the health market. On the other hand, if this is what it would take to salvage the snowballing health crisis then it seems that such measures are justified.
Looking at the bigger picture and on the timeliness of the proposed option, the nation would be better off if the federal health plan pushes through.
The competition in the health industry may increase or it could also be that the for-profit institutions may falter but the disadvantages on them should be outweighed by the great relief on the majority of the people who would benefit from more affordable and comprehensive federal health plans.
At the bottom of it all, the main asset of a nation is its people and it is its duty and best interest to nurture and protect each individual and to uphold his or her welfare.
Abelson, Reed. A Health Plan for all and the concern it raises. www.nytimes.com. 24 March 2009. 08 April 2009
Associated Press. Obama team sets new rules for private Medicare plans. www.boston.com. 31 March 2009. 08 April 2009
The Agenda: Health Care. www.whitehouse.gov. 08 April 2009