Tom Zehner: Universal health care? | SteamboatToday.com

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Tom Zehner: Universal health care?

The ongoing debate about what form the U.S. health care system should take requires us to understand the different terms used to describe these systems There are a variety of measures to produce universal health care. From entirely financed by taxation to others that have a combination of taxation and mandatory low-cost health insurance.
All universal health care systems provide the following:
• Everyone who needs services can receive them regardless of income.
• The quality of health services is high enough to improve the health of those receiving services.
• The cost of using services does not put recipients at risk of financial harm.
These include:
• Single-payer health care is a system in which one organization purchases most or all of the health care. Medicare is an example of a single-payer system which provides basic health coverage to those age 65 and older.
• Universal health care is a system that provides health care and financial protection to all citizens of a particular country using some combination of public and privately managed entities. In addition, residents can be assured the use of these services does not expose them to financial hardship. Great Britain has universal health care.
• Medicare for all is a single-payer national health insurance system where a single public agency organizes health care financing. However, the delivery of health care remains primarily in private hands. All residents are covered for all medically necessary health care services. Supplemental insurance is purchased for additional care. Doctors maintain autonomy over patient care. Australia has Medicare for all.
• Socialized medicine is a health care system where the government owns and operates all health care facilities. The government employs the health care professionals and pays for all health care services. The United States Veterans Health Administration is socialized medicine. The government owns the hospitals and employs the doctors, nurses, negotiates drugs and purchases equipment.
• Public option is a proposal to create a single federal insurance plan that would compete with private insurance companies. It would not be a universal health care system, but an option for individuals to purchase affordable insurance. The public option would necessitate other insurance companies to be more competitive in the insurance marketplace.
Countries that care about health care for all their citizens work toward achieving universal health care. These countries are also involved in health education and preventative medicine. Countries that care more about profits than people, pass something like the AHCA.
The current president and Paul Ryan’s conservative House moves us backwards in time. They are moving us in a direction that is the opposite of single-payer, universal health care and Medicare for all.
AHCA is the Obamacare plan with considerably lower subsidies. The money from the reduced subsidies will be used to give the top moneymakers a significant tax reduction. The AHCA Republican tax plan has a projected increase of 23 million Americans becoming uninsured.
If you have preexisting conditions and you can get insurance, you will have to pay considerably higher premiums. If you end up in a high risk pool you could end up becoming bankrupt from a serious illness. Does that make America great?
On a more encouraging note, T.R. Reid, a senior journalist and fellow Coloradan, has produced a very understandable film on health care called "Sick Around the World" and a book called "The Healing of America," both available at the Bud Werner Memorial Library. Call your senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and let them know you want them to support affordable health care for all.

Tom Zehner
Steamboat Springs