President Barack Obama emphasizes that health care reform will be a key issue during his presidency. In fact, his plan to implement universal health care has already begun by choosing Kathleen Sebelius as the new head of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Universal Health Care to Serve the 47 million Uninsured
The concept of universal health care, national health care, or socialized medicine, as it is alternately known, will be initiated in the US as an option for citizens who want an alternative to our current insurance system. Depending on the source of information, universal health care will help bring much-needed health care to the now 47 million without medical insurance, or it will destroy the health care delivery system in the US and take an additional toll in terms of human lives.
Government Regulation of the Health Care System
Through our current medical system, health insurance and the health care delivery system are operating in a free market environment, with the US government exerting influence through mandates and other controls. Some analysts conclude that the interference of the government in the free market operation of the health care system is the primary reason for its current condition, effectively restricting the rights of insurers, physicians, and patients. At the core of this issue is the debate whether obtaining health care is a human right to be administered by government, or a free-market commodity unfettered by government regulation.
Universal Health Care Model: Canada
In a country which uses universal health care such as Canada, the government pays for all necessary medical care provided by doctors and hospitals. Ideally, this affords everyone an equal opportunity to receive health care without paying a cent to health care providers. In fact, doctors and hospitals must not bill patients for charges over what the government pays. Canada pays for its health care system in the form of higher taxes.
Chemo will have to wait
There is concern that following Canada's efforts to stay within budget, the US might have to limit the number of referrals to specialists and diagnostic or surgical procedures it can perform by placing candidates on a "waiting list," forcing patients with life-threatening illnesses to wait their turn. Canadian patients suffer the consequences of this delay to receive necessary treatment with an increase in their mortality rate for treatable conditions such as breast cancer.
Who Will Pay
President Obama states that by reducing itemized deductions on families which earn over $250,000 per year, $318 billion can be allotted to his health care system over the next ten years. To provide the necessary start-up money, he will also set aside an additional $634 billion to provide momentum to the transition over the next ten years.
An Ambitious Goal
The goal of introducing universal health care in the US is to give everyone the necessary health care they need in a timely fashion, using the most advanced treatments administered by the best-trained health care providers available, at no cost. President Obama is optimistic that the US will become the first nation where universal health care will accomplish this ambitious goal.