Senator Edward Kennedy has been holding closed-door meetings to discuss possible solutions to the healthcare situation for several months now. Amongst participants are leading individuals in the insurance industry, politicians, etc. — everyone and everyone it would take to resolve the need for lower medical costs and universal insurance. Speaking on condition of anonymity, word has gotten out as to what some of the most important factors are. The industry seems willing to accept pre-existing conditions, with the caveat that healthcare insurance be made mandatory for all U.S. citizens.
Needless to say, there is no agreement across the board. Many of these movers and shakers are divided amongst themselves as to how to impliment such a concept. Should employers be required to contribute? What about those who cannot afford insurance? Will the government then be required to pay for some or all of their insurance premiums?
It certainly would simplify things if everyone had coverage. We’d probably also see an increase in demand for healthcare providers, as millions of Americans go without treatment for illnesses and injuries because they cannot afford to go to a doctor’s office without insurance coverage. But how We The People make it criminal to not have coverage? It’s not like a car one can choose not to own or drive if one is too poor to afford it. Accordingly, it would most certainly fall upon the government to pay the premiums for those who cannot afford to do so. This method has proven functional in countries like Holland, but would most certainly create another huge bureaucracy here in the U.S., just qualifying who can or cannot afford to pay premiums.
Some also point out that universal healthcare can’t even be considered until the costs of medical care are reduced. It would be impossible, they say, to address the costs while those costs remain inflated.
What of those pre-existing conditions? Will they raise premiums? What coverage is considered basic and compulsary? How many visits is a patient entitled to at that price?
Much as most everyone would like to see every person have access to medical care, making it mandatory may be going too far. It may be that doing so brings healthcare beyond Universal, beyond a Right and on into an imposition. Can we compell young, healthy people to purchase coverage they feel they do not need? Would it be wise to do so, even if we could? There are many questions left to be answered. If this were an easy problem to resolve, we’d have done so long ago.
The question that comes to mind now is that of how such legislation would impact physicians. For example, would healthcare providers be required to turn in someone who presents without insurance? It’s likely there’d be a minimum coverage available from the state when coverage is unaffordable to the individual. With some states being so slow to pay, how will providing all of these new patients with care and medications affect those physicians and their facilities if they have to wait for several months to be paid by the state? The longer one thinks on the day to day realities of a compulsary health insurance situation, the more one is forced to wonder if it is wise to pursue this avenue at all. What do you think?