In Search of Common Ground

Before Biden, the last two men who won the presidency as Democrats made improvements to the health care system foundational to their platforms. Pres. Biden, of course, has the coronavirus to address. However, once that crisis is in the rearview mirror–which, unfortunately, will require more time than we want–I am curious: what will it take for Congress to accept the fact that America’s health care system is broken, and then choose to do something about it?

The coronavirus has merely exposed longstanding fissures within America’s health care system. The people who need care and counseling the most cannot, in many instances, afford losing time from work to seek medical care. Nor can they afford it, even with medical insurance. Over 500,000 American families declared bankruptcy as the result of their medical expenses in 2019, and most suspect that number will increase when data from 2020 gets tabulated. Health care costs in America total about $11,000 a year per capita, which places it last among wealthy nations worldwide. Health care also consumes an enormous amount of the country’s GDP–far more than any other wealthy nation. Don’t suggest that this is because the quality of health care in America is so great. We rank 15th.

What kind things can you say about a nation that entrusted drugstore chains to be on point for the rollout of the coronavirus vaccines? The process has certainly not been efficient. The drugstores have been overwhelmed by demand and underwhelmed by supply. In Mississippi, efforts have also been fractured by the ideological insistence that counties should have as much say in the process as possible. (The easiest way to make anything happen in Mississippi is to tie high school sports to performance goals. Want to go to the playoffs? Your school better be accredited! Want to see your kids play ball? Get vaccinated!)

I like doctors. Both of my grandfathers were physicians who had their numbers in the phone book. I am quite certain I never ate a meal at my paternal grandfather’s house without a patient calling to ask for advice.

He always answered.

Neither man retired a millionaire. Both practiced medicine as a calling. I suspect both would have balked at having at least ten staff members per physician in their clinics–a result of the abstruse complexity of the health insurance system.

I’m not interested in enforcing a vow of poverty on those who take the Hippocratic Oath. However, I’m also not interested in abetting a system that does so little at the cost of so much. What ideas do you have for reforming the system? Do any of these seem likely to make it through Congress?

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4 Responses to In Search of Common Ground

  1. Chloe Sharp says:

    There is a fairly simple solution and it involves a nationally-funded system to make equal access to healthcare a human right under U.S. law. And I know that everyone reading this simultaneously said to themselves, “but how will we pay for it?” but the answer to that is fairly simple too. First off, reallocate some of the $934 billion (yes that is BILLION) from the US defense budget to help fund these healthcare programs. If more money is needed, raise the federal income tax, especially for the top income brackets. In fact, just look at the healthcare system in the UK and use that as a template for what we need here. Good health isn’t something you can work to achieve, so why is it treated like a luxury in this country?

  2. Xiaohan Yu says:

    We can all agree that a better system should be put in place to improve the quality of the healthcare, however, the U.S. currently has a crippling national debt, so blindly raising funds might not be a valid option.

    It is my firm belief that the best way to work with each patient is not to pay them money, but to provide them with enough options. Patients must have access to the right care at the right time in order to get the right results; therefore, having access to care is the single most important factor for improving quality healthcare. Unfortunately, close to 15 percent of the population is still uninsured, which dramatically reduces these patients’ access to timely care, makes them go without primary care, and forces them to rely on higher cost and lower value services.

    Another option could be to connect and collaborate with other organizations. It should be ideal to provide more public information about healthcare facilities that are experiencing success in a certain area, attend conferences, read the literature, and research online.

    I doubt any attempts at throwing money at people are going through Congress, but publishing more information and reaching out to those individuals might actually come through.

  3. Madison Flowers says:

    Idealistically, more affordable-or even free- healthcare would solve a lot of ongoing problems in the world. However, the national debt caused by the pandemic and a quantity of other things knocks that dream out of the picture. I have to agree with Chloe in regards to the U.S. budgeting its money in better ways. A mere fraction of military funding towards the healthcare system could make a world of difference. In addition, I personally feel drugstores were chosen as rollout locations because big chain companies, such as Walmart, have drugstores. Most people of lower-income shop at Walmart which would make this a target area to give vaccines. However, I feel the Trump administration did not have a firm backbone when it came to sticking to their word about the vaccine goal. I have hope that Biden will hear the voices of the frontline workers and MAKE SURE vaccines are being given effectively.

  4. Cadi Springer says:

    You are correct in your statement that our healthcare system is broken; however, you fail to address the true problem at play in our healthcare system: capitalism. You skirt around the true culprit of our healthcare system, instead blaming the continuation of time by referencing your grandfather. Time is not the culprit; rather, our economic system is. As social mobility decreases and the middle classes shrinks, thousands die each year in the US. Time is not to blame; rather, a Congress that believes in trickle down economics and laisez faire capitalism is. Socialist healthcare is the only solution.

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