Present American Healthcare System Is in Need of Reform Research Paper

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Healthcare Reform

The subject of healthcare reform set the country ablaze last year, proving to be one of the most contentious issues that has swept through American political discourse in recent decades. One reason that healthcare reform might have proven to be such a contentious issue -- bringing out the worst and shrillest elements of the American public -- was that healthcare is one of the most important issues in the lives of many and even most Americans (Christensen and Jason, 2009).

All of us will face serious illness at some point in our lives, whether our own or that of a loved one. The fact that so many Americans do not have any healthcare at all or have very limited access to healthcare makes the issue a personal one, and this alone should have made it central to the public discourse. However, while the above was no doubt the case for some people, for many others the debate over healthcare became an excuse for their anger at the Obama Administration, at the fact that an African-American had become president, at the fact that a wide range of groups felt disenfranchised by everything from climate change (an idea that many who rejected healthcare reform also rejected), to the changing requirements of the workplace, to the recession.

Although it would have been hard to tell by listening to many of the loudest voices in the debate over healthcare reform (which died down about a year ago when Congress passed and the president signed), there are a number of positive results that will occur if the Democratic healthcare bill survives court challenges (the bill was in fact just taken up by
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the U.S. Supreme Court today). The law would allow for every American to get healthcare. For the first time, healthcare for the majority of Americans would not be associated with their employer but simply with their status as individuals and as human beings (

The current recession has made abundantly clear the limitations and perils of making healthcare available almost exclusively through jobs. As more and more Americans have lost their jobs, they also lost their health insurance. Just as they lost their salaries, in other words, they were also faced with the possibility of catastrophic health costs. This had a ripple effect beyond the potential tragedy to each individual family. As people lost their health insurance, they began to wait until they were so sick that they had a health emergency and sought healthcare through the emergency department of a hospital.

Hospitals are required to treat patients facing an emergency. However, when they treat patients with serious illnesses or injuries without insurance are treated in hospitals, those hospitals lose money, which can lead to hospitals closing down their emergency departments or even their entire operations. This reduces the quality of healthcare available to the rest of the community (

The other major improvement in the lives of many people that will come about as the healthcare law goes into effect over time is that insurance companies cannot drop individuals who are diagnosed with serious diseases or refuse to insure them to begin with. Many individuals currently find themselves effectively uninsurable: The only private insurance that they can afford would cost them more than their entire salary (Reid 119). A related benefit of the healthcare reform bill is that insurance companies can no longer…

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Works Cited

Christensen, Clayton and Jason, Grossman. The Innovator's Prescription, New York: McGraw Hill, 2009.

Mahar, Maggie. Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much. New York:Harper/Collins, 2006.

Reid, T.R. The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care. New York: Penquin Books, 2009.

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