By Krista Wettengel
The fundamentals of the American health care system are strong. This so-called health care crisis is just a mental crisis, a psychological illusion. So all of you without health insurance, stop being a bunch of whiners. You’ll live.
Some people actually believe the nonsense you just read. So, let’s examine reality and hope they keep reading.
There are more than 45 million Americans who do not have health insurance, including nearly 9 million children. People with insurance are suffering, too. Over the past six years, health care premiums have risen four times faster than wages. Furthermore, the coverage may be minimal, which is why unpaid medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States.
According to the American College Health Association (ACHA), 11 percent of college students are uninsured. The ACHA also found that students covered through their schools do not realize how little coverage they actually have. But let’s assume you’re on your parents’ health plan and everything is fine. You will most likely lose that coverage when you graduate. If you’re lucky, the insurance company might keep you on until you’re 24.
You’re probably thinking, “No worries, I’ll get health insurance when I get my own job.” Don’t count on it. The unemployment rate is rising every month. Most striking, though, is the fact that more and more employers are eliminating health insurance entirely. Costs are as out of control as college tuition and businesses either can’t afford or won’t pay the added expense.
One of the worst consequences of such expensive health care is that people can’t afford preventive care. American “health care” has become “sick care” because people are forced to wait until they are very ill to seek medical treatment. Standard procedures like physicals, vaccinations and simple blood tests are unaffordable for those without insurance and even for plenty of people with insurance. Preventive care is crucial for warding off illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a host of other life-threatening maladies.
Our health care system is broken, but it is salvageable and worth saving. Sen. Barack Obama has a comprehensive plan for reform. If elected president, Obama will make available a new national health plan so that all Americans can buy affordable health insurance. The plan would be similar to Obama’s own health coverage as a member of Congress. Under this plan, no American will be denied coverage from any insurance plan because of a pre-existing illness. Moreover, the plan will cover all essential medical services, including preventive, maternity and mental health care. Obama will also expand the number of options for college-age students to get coverage. He will fight to allow people to stay on their parents’ health plan until they turn 25, instead of anywhere between 18 and 24 depending on the plan.
Obama has already accomplished health care reform in both the Illinois and United States senates. In the Illinois State Senate, Obama fought for women by creating a task force on cervical cancer. As a U.S. senator, Obama worked to guarantee that more American children have health care.
In addition to voting on Nov. 4, talk to your parents about how much health insurance you have and how long you have it. The answers might surprise you.