Saturday, August 22, 2009

On Health Care... and its reform

Death panels.

Rationing.

Morality.

This is what we talk about when we talk about health care reform. The conversation seems to have veered in a direction that takes us further away from reform and closer to chaos.

The simple truth is that the health care system we have today is unsustainable. We cannot continue to afford steep increases in the cost of health care.

If we focus our efforts on adding more people to a broken system, health care will bring us all to bankruptcy sooner, rather than later.

As one who is self-insured, I've got a huge stake in the health care debate surging across the country right now. To me, the issue is not really an issue of morality, nor should it be reduced to a conversation about providing health care to the uninsured.

It's about fixing a broken system that touches each and everyone of us at different points in our lives.

Birth requires health care. For most of us, dying takes us into the health care system as well. And at numerous points along the way, we visit doctors, receive vaccines, acquire broken bones that need mending, fill prescriptions for antibiotics and other medications.

All of us require health care.

(Which makes me wonder why a for-profit insurance program would be used to pay for something like health care. Insurance traditionally is used to protect against unlikely disasters - but health care is used by everyone throughout our lives.)

And today in America, the cost of health care has been rising significantly faster than the cost of living. The for-profit, employer-provided insurance programs we have to pay for health care no longer work efficiently and cost-effectively.

Millions of Americans fall outside of the protection of a large employer, and thus, insurance is difficult to obtain for all but the healthiest people.

We can stick our head in the sand, and ignore the issue.

Or we can make inflammatory claims in the hopes of hijacking reform away from any workable solution.

Or we can engage in a rational discussion on how to fix the system.

Rationality seems far removed from the debate I see today. Which makes me think that true reform is even further removed from reality.

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