Monday, November 19, 2007

Health Care and the Average Josephine

The Average Josephine in the America feels that health care is an automatically inherent right to be awarded simply because she lives in the United States. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary gives us the definition of what inherent means--"involved in the constitution or essential character of something : belonging by nature or habit." However, as much as health care has become the current political football this year in the race for the Presidency in 2008, we must realize that free or universal health care is not free. Someone has to pay for it, and the American taxpayer is the one on the hook to pay the bill.

As I mentioned in the previous blog, health care is a privilege, not a right. Many people feel that they deserve to have some form of health care and not have to pay for it, or perhaps are entitled to health care at a radically reduced rate (if not free)--paid for by the government, such as Medicaid. One of the reasons that health care has become so outrageously expensive is because of the entitlement programs that have stressed the American health care system. Another reason is that so many uninsured people that are overburdening the U.S. health care system. The latest U.S. Census report says that over 47 million Americans are uninsured. The topic of why this number is so large will be discussed in a separate blog. The issue of the uninsured deserve its own discussion.

Over the last few decades, our society has been brainwashed to think that we all deserve insurance to take care of us for every little event--from a simple cold to a minor cut. Insurance was originally designed to protect us in the event of catastrophic situations. Insurance helps protect us from total financial loss in case we are unable to work or pay our bills. Instead, we have played the game of having it take care of every little item using a co-pay to reduce our out of pocket expenses, and now the average American pays over $10,000 a year in premiums for a family plan. According to an article published online with the Philadelphia Inquirer in February, 2006, by 2015, one in every $5 spent in the U.S. will go toward medical costs—a reflection of the aging baby boomers, the cost of the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, declining rates of insurance coverage, and rising hospital costs—with health care costs averaging $12,320 per person.

In order for the American health care system to not implode in the next few years, there should be certain ways for costs to be reduced both at the point of service and in the infrastructure of the health care system itself. We can study these over time in additional blogs, and consider various alternative options for additional discussion. In the interim, the most important consideration is for Average Josephine to figure out how to stay well and not abuse the best health care system in the world.


Your thoughts are welcome. Until next time, thank you.



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