The real debate on health care is one of economics. Will the invisible hand of the free market system, if left unregulated, eventually make health care affordable for all? Or should the government step in and redistribute a portion of the wealth of its citizens so that all may have health care right now and for the foreseeable future? It's a fundamental economic quandary, and one that is not likely to ever be clearly resolved.
Undoubtedly, our nation was founded on the principles of the free market. It's written into the constitution. It was also one of the primary motivations to achieve independence from the Crown. And it's what has made our country great. It is the source of our wealth; it is the source of our power. It is why generations of immigrants left their homelands, still do, and will for generations to come. They all want a piece of that gold-paved streets action. Without free market capitalism, America as we know it would not exist.
But the Founding Fathers lived in an era when health care as we know it did not exist, and human rights, as we understand them now, did not exist. That a person could walk into a hospital and be immunized against communicable diseases such as polio and influenza was not something they could have taken into consideration. Medical health care itself was not seen in the same light it is now. Back then, people were just as likely to depend on prayer to God for healing as they were on the neighborhood physician making his rounds. Add to that the archaic vision of human rights written into the constitution and accepted almost universally in the society of the time, and one can see that the founding fathers' vision of the virtues of a free market are less relevant than one might think.
Will the invisible hand right all wrongs, cure society of all its ills? As there has never been a truly free market in a modern society, one must take a leap of faith to believe that the invisible hand has this sort of power, is this predictable. It is generally accepted that it would take decades, some say centuries, for an unregulated free market economy to reach a point of equilibrium, where even society's bottommost rungs are buoyed by the nation's foundation of cash to the point where they can live a middle class existence on a full time job.
Even if this faith pans out in the future, and America becomes the standard bearer for quality of life for all its citizens, one should consider those who cannot afford treatment right now. If you believe that these people should be sacrificial lambs for a better tomorrow — well that's a whole different discussion. Anyway, there are laws in place that require emergency rooms to treat anyone who enters in need of assistance. How many of those who are uninsured will actually pay the $1000 bill they get in the mail? Obviously a healthy portion of them will not. If they want further treatment they have several options: Free clinics; buy private insurance; pay out of pocket; go on Medicare/Medicaid. Free clinics are not designed for use as regular health care providers; those who cannot pay an emergency room bill likely cannot afford private insurance; neither can they pay out of pocket, certainly not for long-term or highly specialized treatment; so then the best option is Medicare/Medicaid. There is little difference between the Medicare/Medicaid programs running now and a national health insurance scheme.
A national health insurance plan most significantly would benefit the large group of Americans who make too much to be eligible for Medicaid and yet cannot realistically afford a private health plan. These Americans would have the opportunity to opt into the plan if they wanted to save the money. Of course, they could stick with their private plan if they so desired. It is a win-win for them.
But who loses? The insurance companies. They will lose a lot of income, clearly. But, if you haven't noticed, it's not the insurance companies which are putting up the big fight, it's the Republicans. Why? Is it because they believe the free market is the best tool to provide quality of life for all the citizens they represent? Individuals may very well believe this, but that is not why they are fighting Obama tooth and nail. Quite simply, if Obama succeeds with this health scheme of his, then the GOP will be screwed for the next couple of elections. That's it. That's their motivation. And don't worry, I'm sure the Democrats would do the same thing if they were currently on the outs.
Meanwhile, and not to sound cheesy, people really are suffering out there from lack of proper treatment, or lack of expendable funds, and all the suffering of these faceless, nameless constituents could be ended but for the one party vying for power. If any of these politicians really stopped and thought about the people, as politicians like to say, then they'd do all they could to set up a sensible health care system as soon as possible. But alas, serving the people is not what politics is about. If it does come to pass, then yes, it will not be an example of free market capitalism. But neither will it mean a socialist economy, nowhere near it. The little people can have what they need while the big boys can still play at their high stakes games to their hearts' content.Powered by Sidelines