reputed "health crisis" currently facing Americans. The author explores several aspects of the health care crisis and analyzes the validity of those claims. The author presents an argument that there really is not a health care crisis and it is a fallacy. There were six sources used to complete this paper.
Why do People Believe the Crisis is Real?
What Evidence is There That it is Not Real?
What are some of the things giving the appearance it is...shortage of students etc.
What are some of the ideas that can help the problem?
For several years now Americans have been inundated with information about the health care crisis. News channels cover the crisis and pipe it into living rooms. Magazines publish articles about the causes and history of the health care crisis and politicians use the health care crisis to sell their platform and garner votes. It seems that everywhere one turns one can hear, see or read information about the health care crisis in America. It has become such a part of the fabric of American life that it is accepted as fact. There are several schools of thought about how it started and what keeps it going. Many people believe it is being caused and perpetuated by rising insurance costs. Others think it is the rising cost of health care itself while still others believe it is politically motivated and a way to keep the rich and the poor separated. The health care crisis has been talked about, and tossed around so often over the past two decades that it is now an accepted fact and used as a springboard for heated debates nationwide, with little thought to the validity of its existence. When one peels off the initial onslaught of information however and examines the foundational basis and workings of the American health care system one will see that the health care crisis is a fallacy perpetuated by politicians and media.
There are many people, experts included who believe that there is indeed a national health care crisis going on in the United States. One only has to look at the number of uninsured, underinsured and uninsurable to buy into the belief that the crisis is real. On any given night one can tune into a news show and see information that will lead the viewer to believe there is a national crisis in the health care system. People and experts a like blame higher cost of care, politicians and other factors to keep what they believe to be a true national health care crisis going.
It is vital to the study of the problem to separate true causes and effects from assumptions about the crisis. It is also important to develop solutions to the things that actually are contributing factors to the perception that there is a serious health care crisis going on in America.
Why do People Believe the Crisis is Real?
The last time anyone in American politics spoke seriously of a health care "crisis" was during the recession of the early 1990s. At the time, unemployment was rising just as high medical costs were driving insurance premiums to unprecedented levels. As a result, millions of people lost their coverage and millions more worried they might be next (Cohn, 2001).
Newspapers captured the situation: "hard times leave more uninsured" (The Hartford Courant); "possibility of losing coverage worries caregivers, parents" (Houston Chronicle); "need health insurance? good luck" (USA Today). So too did the stories of people like Megan Janes-Smith, a recently unemployed 31-year-old living in Kalamazoo, Michigan. As she explained to a reporter, her husband's employer didn't offer coverage and her three-person family didn't have the $900 a month to buy coverage on their own. So she put off the x-rays recommended to treat her chronic shoulder condition, put up with the pain from her recurring sinus infections, and put out of her mind worries about the hospital bills she'd face in a medical emergency. "I'm trying not to lose my sanity," she said (Cohn, 2001)."
Stories such as the above have provided the foundation for believing there is a real and serious health care crisis in the United States. Washington began to put out the message that the nation was facing a health care crisis as well. Politicians began to make it a main focus of their campaign platforms in the early 1990's. Politicians began to get their speech writers to focus on the health care issues of America and when they gave those speeches the voters began to believe it existed.
Many people began to worry about the ability to pay for health care or insurance and at the same time insurance rates began to rise dramatically.
In theory, these people could go out and buy insurance on their own. In practice, that's simply not financially possible for most of the newly unemployed. Insurers generally charge individuals buying insurance more than they charge businesses buying coverage for their employees, in part because their actuarial tables show that individual buyers are less healthy on average. And if an insurance company decides you have a particular propensity for running up medical bills -- and you can be sure it will try to find out -- it will adjust its rates accordingly. Consider what happened earlier this year when the Kaiser Foundation created seven hypothetical consumers, each with past or present medical problems, and had them apply for coverage from 19 companies in eight markets across the country. The average premium was about $4,000 a year, often for reduced benefits. And those who got coverage offers -- however expensive -- were the lucky ones. Insurers rejected outright nearly half of the applications from a hypothetical 48-year-old woman who'd beaten breast cancer seven years before -- and all the applications from a hypothetical 36-year-old man with HIV (Cohn, 2001)."
Other reasons that have been presented as evidence that the nation is in the midst of a severe health care crisis include:
The inordinately high costs of the present system. Health care costs now represent one-seventh of our economy and are projected to rise to $1 trillion next year.
The large number of adults and children with no medical insurance or with inadequate coverage.
The need for more family practice physicians who can provide preventive care, particularly immunizations for children and prenatal care for pregnant women.
There are now more working poor than there were 20 years ago, and the kinds of jobs welfare recipients, even after training, are likely to find will be in this category."
Our system requires a reservoir of unemployed for times when there is an economic boom. Since the cry is that we can't afford a humane welfare system, here are a few proposals for funding such a system (Blumenthal, 1994)":
Health insurance premiums are rising at double- digit rates," writes Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution in The Washington Post. "Drug prices are skyrocketing. Employers are curtailing health insurance benefits and boosting the share of cost employees must shoulder. "Stunned by rising premiums, employees are foregoing coverage for themselves, their spouses and their children. As a result, the ranks of the uninsured rose to more than 41 million, a jump of 1.4 million in 2001 alone, and appear likely to continue expanding as rising costs hammer employers whose profits are depressed by a weak economy. No one should be surprised if 50 million people are uninsured by 2005(Reno, 2002)."
All of the above reasons lead to the conclusion by the American public that there is a national health care crisis of epic proportions going on.
What Evidence is There That it is Not Real?
Rising health care costs are indisputable. If one takes the cost of health care fifty years ago and compares it to the cost of health care today it will show positive evidence that the health care costs have skyrocketed when compared to years ago. What the people of the nation need to remember is that salaries have also risen and skyrocketed. If one takes the average mean salary of 50 years ago and compares it to today's salaries there will also be a large difference. In addition to making more money most families now have dual incomes. With both the male and female in the home working the chances of obtaining health care coverage is doubled. In addition there are many public health care programs that did not used to be available before. It was not long ago that health care insurance was not in existence. If it was available at all it was only for severe emergencies such as accidents or needed emergency surgeries. The early health care insurance did not cover things such as doctor visits and medications. These perks are relatively new. Families were expected to set aside funds for the needed prescriptions and visits to the doctors.
Hall is a business reporter for The Journal-Gazette in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Society of Professional Journalists