Health Care Reform – An unfinished business

Recently passed Health Care Act and the relevant fixes might be a monumental change in the history of American health care industry, but the fact is that – it is not enough. This reform has addressed many issues like preexisting condition, lifetime limit, donut hole, increasing the dependent children age to 26, and expansion of Medicaid etc.
The act mandated everyone to purchase insurance – if you can’t afford; subsidies will be available. Politically, this is possibly the most doable or achievable accomplishment. But thinking people need to be skeptical.

This politics of momentary success is just that – momentary success. We need to think deeply and about the long term.

Massachusetts, a state which possibly has a prototype health care system that the federal government acted upon, is going to face a severe problem.

The insurance companies are increasing the premium by 10 to 30 percent.
Insurance companies will increase the rate – and nothing much can be done. The Heath care act does not have any provision to check on premium increase.
The insurance, drug, and other health care providers remain decisive players – unchecked and unrestrained.

Their role has not been reduced. And they are the main villain of the health care mess in America.

The government will be a referee without any iron teeth. So when the war on premium and drug pricing starts, the government will be weaponless.

There is no regulating agency to regulate insurance premiums. There is no such body to regulate the price of medicine. There is no public option. There is no support for increasing the number of medical schools and no umbrella agency to make strategic policy adjustments.

Over and above, the health issue has not been addressed as a matter of right on the part of the citizen; it’s a matter of privilege. If you can’t afford it – go to hell.

Health care debate needs to come back to where history demands. America needs universal health care. That’s the only logical and moral option.

It can be financed more efficiently – if we just don’t allow the companies to make profit over people.

Having a public option could help, where insurance companies will compete with government – a model which works pretty effectively in many industrial democracies.

All citizens have the right to health care – it’s not a market or profit issue. Guess what? All the industrial democracies cover all their citizens with almost half our cost.

If the government sponsored agency can solve the problem – so be it.
Studies have shown the government managed health care providers (such as Medicaid and Medicare) have five percent overhead expenses.

Private health care providers have overhead expenses from 20 percent to 30 percent.
Market controlled by “too big to fail” companies should have taught us one lesson – we need the intervention of our government elected by our own people.

We don’t want America to become a county of sub-optimal solutions.

The powerful corporate elite masterfully created a dysfunctional democratic culture.
It in turn raised a generation of Americans with distorted and mean spirited understanding of freedom and democracy.

This in turn, makes our country unfit for surviving and leading in the 21st century.
Our young men and women need to enlighten and self-examine themselves. Think creative and think for the society as whole.

Nasir Ahmed is a professor of public administration in the GSU Political Science Department.