President Obama laid out the pragmatic need for health care reform in last night’s speech:
"This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes," Obama said in his speech to a joint session of Congress.
Obama pointed to the increasing number of uninsured and rapidly rising health-care premiums, which he said was one reason small business closed their doors and corporations moved overseas.
Reuters reports that we spend more than $7,400 per person each year on health care in this country, which added up to more than 19 percent of 2009’s GDP.
Is this really the best we can do? No, it isn’t.
Howard Dean was on Hardball yesterday talking about health care reforms: what that actually means in pragmatic terms, and why American businesses, individuals and doctors are drowning under the byzantine maze of hoop jumping that is our current system.
Dean made one thing crystal clear: everyone — including folks at the Chamber of Commerce, medical professionals, and pharmaceutical companies — want reforms. The only folks standing in the way? Insurance companies, who profit more from keeping things as they are.
Currently in this country, 45 million people are uninsured.
Which means that communicable diseases go unchecked more frequently, meaning the rest of us get exposed. Imagine what that would mean in a national security crisis context.
Cancer isn’t caught early, which makes it more expensive and less successful to treat. Preventative care is next to nonexistent, which makes illnesses that much worse when they do seek treatment. Doctors are fed up with this, especially primary care physicians.
As someone with a "preexisting condition" (in my case, lupus), I am all too aware of the precariousness of my situation. My insurance comes through my husband’s work, so when he retires I’ll be SOL — we’ve actually talked about prolonging his work to be able to maintain insurance coverage. We aren’t the only ones.
I’ve picked up Jacob Hacker’s Great Risk Shift again. Something tells me that the insurance folks who have made moolah shifting the risks back onto the rest of us while asking us to pay for that privilege aren’t going to go quietly toward a better preventative model quietly.