This blog is for discussing issues in our complex global economy.
From Greg Mankiw’s blog, the pros and cons of the public option of health care:
Pro and Con.
Wow, quite a read and a very touchy topic to say the least. This is one of the reasons that we hear about “reform” at election time, and then it goes by the way side when politicians take office. It’s a political time bomb, and in my personal opinion, this is one that we can’t afford to get wrong. It would have devastating consequences. Our system needs reform, without a doubt, but a government run “public” plan; I for one am not a fan. I think it should be privatized, not centralized, but I am not an expert by any means.
All the highly incentivized medical research described by John Calfee isn’t doing 18% of Americans under 65 any good, because they have no health insurance- should one of these individuals be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis the treatment could be “measly” (to quote the author), or phenomenol, but would certainly break their bank. Even those of us with “good” insurance coverage quake at the thought of a serious illness- who hasn’t heard of someone with a claim eliminated due to “pre-existing conditions.
I also would disagree that developments in medical technology are only incentivised by giant payouts. Surely their are pharmaceutical researchers and doctors who practice medicine and develop new drugs and treatments in order to heal the sick and to improve general quality of life! While they should certainly be compensated for their efforts I don’t agree that is should be at the expense of 46 million Americans with no option for health care, and I don’t believe that they would all suspend their efforts because of a pay cut.
I know many people are concerned about us having public health care although for myself I am fortunate to not have to worry about it. My mom works for Kaiser so I am covered under her until I think twenty six. Today I went to the doctors and I paid a $5 co pay and another elderly lady was in there and had to pay $80 for a co pay. What’s worse is that there’s some of you out there saying $80, that’s not bad compared to what I pay. Although it is the number one issue Obama is working on, I’m not sure it is realistic that we can afford it. If so, think about how basic it might be similar to Europe. I guess for those who are receiving nothing, something is better than nothing, especially since it’s our tax dollars.
I’d say that rather than focusing on how health care is provided or payed for, the focus should be on how doctors are licensed. That whole system needs to be opened up, one way or another, so that the number of doctors that come to the market is more directly pegged to the demand for them.
One way this could be done without doing away with licensing entirely would be to allow people to get their licenses if they spend a certain amount of time training under doctors who already do–so that in those hospitals where the ratio of patients to doctors was especially high, pressure would be put to train new ones.
Allowing the supply of doctors to more closely mirror the demand for them would make medicine on the whole more affordable. Another way to go about lowering the cost would be to pass laws limiting the circumstances under which a patient may sue a doctor; and putting a cap on the amount of money that can be paid should the patient win.
From either side, the dichotomy of public health care is a tricky one. For those that have trouble paying for health care now, government funded health care is immediately appealing on the personal level. Yet, on a larger scale, would the benefits really outweigh the costs? Despite the mess of federal costs and messy politics, for an individual, the following should be considered:
Some people feel entitled to public health care, citing that many other nations function well with it and that overall quality of life increases without the stresses of all those medical bills. However, would one rather wait 3 months to get that doctor’s appointment, or just pay up front for prompt attention? Either way, there’s a cost: it’s health/time vs. money.
Also, making health care a public good would inherently eliminate competition, ultimately decreasing the value and progress of American medicine in the future. There is a reason why the United States is a leader in medical techniques, pharmaceuticals, and overall innovations in the medical field: firms and doctors compete for our business. A government-controlled, standardized health care system would result in a “lazy” market–no incentives, little progress.
I moved to this country from Taiwan four years ago and Taiwan has universal health care. I guess one of my “culture shocks” here is how much I have to pay to see a doctor or get a treatment(with medical insurance.) People are concerned that we may not get as good service as we do now after the healthcare becomes universal or “publicly run.” I was just as happy about the doctors, nurses, hospitals, and medication in Taiwan as those in here, but I paid very very little in Taiwan. I bet if you ask the same question to the people in the countries with universal healthcare, they would all have the same answer. A lot of those countries, like Taiwan, have a lot less GDP than U.S.. If those countries can afford universal health care, why U.S. can’t? If pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, politicians, doctors can all think about making a little less money, just a little less, then the healthcare probably wouldn’t cost that much for the government to run. Yes, there are people who can afford expensive medication and treatment, but there’re a lot more people who can’t.
We do need a better health care plan which caters for the need of the underprivileged. But at the same people need to reduce the risk of having those serious health condition that can be prevented through healthier living and changing habits. Many lung, heath and obesity problems can be prevented through these changes. It ironic to see and hear people complaining about height prices of health care then they are in the doctors office or admitted in a hospital for problems that could have been prevented.
Does it strike any one as odd that we are the only high-income nation in the world that does not offer universal healthcare? There is a reason that we are having such problems with the way it is being handled right now. Since the system as is is so discouraging, people try to take the high road by taking their chances without insurance, and waiting to become desperately ill so they have to seek emergency room care. We should not feel pressured to live this way. Those that can afford health insurance are typically those who take care of themselves and those who cannot afford it are usually those who need to improve and preserve their health the most. It’s all backwards.. I’m not by any means defending these people, or the actions they take, but the way things are set up right now absolutely encourage this type of behavior. I’m going to be booted off of my parents’ plan in less than a month and have several prescriptions and health conditions that need routine attention..what am I going to do since I don’t work?? Bitch a little more I guess..
As a public health major, healthcare reform is one of the major topics that comes up in every class I take. Both sides of the issue are equally valid, it is easy to see the public option for healthcare as a government take-over, but it is also easy to accept as a wonderful option that so many other countries have access to. Personally, I believe that for the 46 million Americans that have no healthcare insurance, the public option is definitely the best for our nation.
Moreover, it is not a complete takeover of the healthcare system; it is a fact that healthcare insurance companies will exempt people from qualifying for insurance based on preexisting conditions (my dad was denied insurance previously) and the president has stated that he will work to prevent this from happening in the future. For those who already have healthcare insurance, the government is not changing the availability of this option- individuals can stay on their current plan and receive all the same benefits.
I have family both in Taiwan and in the states and it is amazing how different the medical bills are for the same services for a country with national healthcare coverage versus one without. My uncle and my mother both recently got tested for swine flu in Taiwan and California respectively, and my uncle paid less than half of what my mother did for the same level of care. While many skeptics argue that a “nationalized” or “socialized” healthcare system will be affected negatively by bureaucracy, Americans have been screaming for reform for ages and every 15 or so years in history, the issue reappears and is defeated by opposition.
The fact is, America on average pays more than any other country for healthcare and yet we have a shorter lifespan and poorer health than all of these countries. Regardless of what the opposition is, having healthcare is better than going without for those 46 million Americans. Moreover, if the reform affects our system negatively, there is still room for improvement-we have defeated the very idea of reform for decades and our healthcare system is still in dismal condition, how much worse can it really get?
Getting rid of insurance companies now would certainly cause a problem in employment: people working for them would lose their jobs. Pharmacists would also be making much less money as a result. Health insurance from a private insurer costs a lot of money if your employer does not provide it. Totaling up the pros and cons, I think we do need some reform because so many Americans are left uninsured. Also, doctors are told to streamline the process and help as many people as possible, thus reducing quality. This contrasts with my idea of helping them as much as possible, so that they do not have as much problems in the future.
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