Do Most Americans Really Need Health Insurance?
Do Americans need health insurance? No. No one needs health insurance — people need health care. Health insurance is just a middleman, a gatekeeper of sorts that takes our money and manages the payment of our bills. The insurance companies decide our course of treatment instead of our more qualified doctors. There is not one American who needs health insurance. What is necessary is to figure out a better way to receive the health care that we need.
If you are sick or injured, and live in the United States, you will receive medical care. It won’t be bargain-basement care, either. U.S. health care is not designed like that. There is no set of less educated or semi-skilled health care workers you can go to for a discounted price. You may be treated by the same doctors and in the same places as the elite of our country. If you can’t pay, the cost of your care will be covered by already tapped out government subsidies, such as Medicaid.
This has been the arrangement that millions of Americans have lived with for many years, through no fault of their own. Health insurance is not an option for people who cannot afford it. Even when working full time, the employees’ health insurance costs can absorb almost half of their paychecks, depending upon where they work.
Insurance companies simply take our money and pay our bills. It is a co-op of sorts that pools our money. Some of us get very sick and need to use more of the money that has been paid in. This is balanced out by the people who use very little of the money in the system, i.e., the healthy ones. It would not be a bad concept, if the cost was realistic. The profits the insurance companies are keeping for themselves for providing these services has become a real problem. They are not frugal when taking our money, only when deciding how much to spend on the amount of care we can get. Medical tests, prescription drugs and length of stay in the hospital are all based on insurance companies’ decisions. This is just not working.
Long ago, someone came up with the idea for our garbage to be picked up and carted away and have it paid for by our taxes. It was a great idea and still works well. Why can’t the same be done for health care? No one wants taxes to go up, but the amount of money paid to insurance companies could be cut in half and put into a direct-pay health care system administered by the government. This would not raise our taxes, and might even lower them. The government can develop an agency that does what the insurance companies do, at a much lower expense.
Yes, the insurance industry may lose millions of jobs. This is a casualty of progress. They typewriter companies were put out of business or had to restructure with the invention of the PC. Horse-drawn buggy makers became extinct when automobiles were mass produced. If we took job loss into consideration with each new invention, we would not have many modern conveniences of today.
Progress must be made to solve the crisis of our out-of-control health insurance industry. Put our money to good use by putting it in the hands of the people who actually provide the services. Use the money we pay to the insurance companies to fund health care for everyone, with no insurance needed. If the government devises a new agency to do this, then many new jobs would open up to counteract any job losses.
Canada and the United Kingdom have public health care systems, and there are pros and cons of public health care as well. People do not have to worry about health insurance, but there are sometimes problems getting necessary care. The waits in both these countries are very long in both the emergency rooms and for doctors’ appointments. If you go to an ER with an urgent condition, such as a heart attack, you will be seen immediately, just as you would here in the U.S. It is very inconvenient to wait long periods of time in an ER with a non-lethal condition, but it will not kill you.
The pay for doctors and other health care workers in these countries is far less than that of their American counterparts. This can be a reason for the shortage of care. Incentives can be developed to draw people into this profession in the way of pay. With the money we could save with doing away with the insurance industry, there should be more than enough money to go around.
A new U.S. heath care system can be devised taking into consideration what has been learned from the pros and cons of other countries’ systems.
The health insurance industry developed in the 1920s, originating at a Texas hospital that developed its own non-profit fund called the “Blues.” The fund was for poor people who would pay a very small fee, but have their health needs covered. This fund eventually became Blue Cross.
Health insurance companies were started as non-profit entities. They still were 90 percent non-profit through the 1980s. It was in the 1990s that the health care industry exploded into a for-profit business. The profit margins have been escalating at high rates since then.
The health insurance industry has out-priced itself and it is now time to fix it. Americans are notorious for finding alternatives to high-priced items. Every new technology that is developed soon becomes less expensive to buy. A VCR in the early 1980s cost about $500. Today you can get a clearer picture with a $50 DVD player. Flat-screen TVs are another example; their costs have dropped significantly. If the U.S. can do this with entertainment, we certainly can do it for health care.
Americans must consider where all our health insurance money is going, and get it back to where it belongs. This should be done without raising taxes. If it is done right, taxes can be lowered. We need to take as much time figuring out our health care as we did for our garbage collection.
Health insurance is a good concept, but the health insurance companies have bled us dry to line their own pockets. There has to be a way for our government to offer better medical care while keeping an ample supply of health care workers gainfully employed. More people will become doctors, nurses and technicians if assistance is offered for education costs and pay is higher than in other countries. This could ensure that the long lines and lengthy time to get an appointment will not happen here.
We are living with an outdated health care system. Once, the health insurance industry had its place, but its greediness has made it an enemy of the American people.