8/19/09

I’m praying for health care reform

I’m not particularly partisan about this debate. For those of you who are, please indulge me a moment. I’m okay with Newt Gingrich’s plan, and I’m okay with President Obama’s plan. The way I look at it, it doesn’t matter which one we start with, because the will of the American people will force it to be revised.

Do I trust the federal government to determine the health care I can receive? Of course not! Do I trust a large insurance corporation to act in my best interest? The answer is the same: Of course not!

Last month I talked to a doctor of internal medicine who has her own solo practice. She has to hire a fulltime staff person just to haggle with insurance companies to get them to pay what they are legally obligated to pay on behalf of her patients. They try one sneaky tactic after another. She is so sick of it, she said she’d rather have a government-run, single-payer system.

This surprised me, so I asked her if she really thought a government-run system would be better. Her reply was something like, “It couldn’t be worse.”

I’m not advocating a single-payer system, and it seems that even Obama’s public option is currently in doubt. But here’s what I am advocating: affordable healthcare available for all.

I don’t want a system that sends the uninsured to the ER when what they really need is a visit to the clinic. I don’t want a system where people die undiagnosed because they couldn’t afford a doctor’s visit. That’s why I’m praying for health care reform.

Like many of you, I’m fortunate. I have good health insurance. But we the insured are more vulnerable than we like to think. I don’t want a system where between jobs we lose our coverage, or we can’t afford to keep it. I don’t want a system where, if one of my young adult kids suffers from a major illness or injury, we find out too late that he or she was between coverage or terribly underinsured. That’s why I’m praying for health care reform.

I don’t want a system where some are denied the benefits of group health coverage, because they’re self-employed or work for a small business. I don’t want a system that balloons the national debt, leaving it to our grandchildren to pick up the tab. That’s why I’m praying for health care reform.

Generally speaking, I believe that the free market system has served the American people well. Competition has spurred innovation while keeping costs down. My preference is to harness it rather than abandon it. But the free market isn’t designed to work for everybody. And I don’t want a health care system that has no conscience. That’s why I’m praying for health care reform.