The issue of health reform has been on the agenda for a century, but the U.S. government still hasn’t made any steps in this direction. A single accident or illness can lead the Americans without health insurance to bankruptcy. However, the reform has provoked serious debates both in the society and among politicians. Not even all Democrats in Congress support it. A wave of public protests ran through the country. There of course was opposition from Republicans and insurance companies that risk having billion-dollar losses.
Healthcare reform proposed by the President aims to provide insurance to those who need it, and give confidence to those who are already insured. The new plan provides the improvement of the existing health insurance system. In particular, insurance companies won’t be able to refuse from giving the policy for people with chronic diseases, as well as to interrupt or restrict services in the case of insured person’s illness. Moreover, the reform will set a limit on patients’ out-of-pocket payment of medical services because, according to the President, a disease should not be equal to bankruptcy. Employers will be obliged to provide insurance to their employees. Currently uninsured people will have an opportunity to choose an affordable insurance. According to the President’s plans, insurance will be mandatory for all residents of the United States (Fornili, 161-164).
Republicans criticize many of reform’s provisions, arguing that the state insurance will inevitably be more expensive than the private one.
Private insurance companies are also furiously protesting against the plan of the ruling party, claiming that the implementation of the bill will make already insured people lose a substantial portion of their insurance payments as private companies will have save to compete with the state. It is also feared that the government’s new plan will bankrupt hospitals, destroy the insurance payments to employees and greatly increase the federal budget deficit (Miles, 275-289).
The planned reform is indeed complicated. Foreigners, who are superficially tracking the progress of the battle unfolding in the U.S. over the health care, may mistakenly imagine a black and white picture where Obama longs to create in America the same system of health insurance as in other developed countries where medical care is provided to all citizens and is guaranteed by the state (Chugh, 20-37).
However, it would be simplistic to say that the sole purpose of Obama’s reform is joining of uninsured to the public network of health insurance. The same thing would be saying that the reform aims at saving the insured Americans from the fear of personal bankruptcy, if they need medical care in case of a more serious illness. Many of the insurance policies holders are now, so to say, subinsured – their insurance policy is not valid in the cases of more serious illnesses.
The critics’ concerns about the reform are clear: will taxes rise because of the suggested changes, will insurance become more expensive?
However, if to trust the expert estimates, a positive factor, in my opinion, is that the costs of the reform will not lead to further increase of the budget deficit. According to the plan, funds for the reform will be obtained through the cuts of other budget expenditures, as well as through a more rational allocation of incomes in health insurance sector. In order to identify wasting and abuse Barack Obama plans to create a special commission of doctors and medical experts. It is important that the cost of reform is also less than the government’s investments into the failing wars both in the Afghanistan and Iraq (Chugh, 20-37).
In addition, it is important that legislators by the reform demonstrate their concern about nation’s health and reproduction. Thus, the President has repeatedly emphasized that the federal budget will never allocate money for abortions, which is a very important position for the formation of public opinion and morality of modern society. Moreover, the Senate and Congress in a preliminary manner discussed various measures, including the new tax on soda, which leads to obesity and related diseases.
Another advantage of the reform is its aspiration to establish social justice. Thus, the bill on health care reform will, for instance, forbid insurance companies to arbitrarily increase the insurance cost or change the its conditions. It will not allow insurance companies to refuse giving people insurance in case of serious illness. This should give people confidence that if they lose their jobs, move or change jobs, they can still use the insurance. Health care reform will put limits on the amount that citizens must pay for medical services in excess of insurance. Insurance companies will also have to cover the cost of medical consultations (Fornili, 161-164).
However so far, the reform creates additional injustice instead. The draft of the reform, developed by the Democrats in the House of Representatives, provides an additional tax for well-off Americans in the amount of 5,4%, for those whose incomes are slightly lower – 350 thousand dollars a year. But on the other hand, the additional tax would, according to the draft authors, allow to finance the reform of the health sector, which aims at providing health insurance for all Americans and reducing the treatment cost (Miles, 275-289).
In my opinion, another positive thing is that the implementation of health care reform would create new jobs, and more opportunities to open new companies in the small business.
The President associates the unemployment rise, one of the main problems in the United States, with the priority of his domestic policies – the implementation of reforms in the national health system. If people aspiring to become businessmen know that their insurance will remain valid while they are establishing their own businesses, they will create new companies and hire employees. This stimulates country’s economic development (Miles, 275-289).
Development of biopharmaceutics will also be determined by two key ideas: the reform of health financing system and the reform of the health care system itself based on the revolutionary potential of genetics. Reform of health financing system is caused by the acute shortage of health insurance funds and, at the same time, by the reduction of population’s incomes. It is a long-term trend associated with the demographic situation in the country, and the deficit will remain for the next 20-30 years. The health reform aspires to create an opportunity for the Americans to receive more medical services and medicines for less money. This means that new biopharmaceuticals should be invented and produced faster than they are now and cheaper than they are now (Chugh, 20-37).
The American Medical Association, the Federation of American Hospitals and the American Hospital Association commonly support the reform. However, some doctors fear that having created a public medical insurance system the government will as a monopolist reduce fees on market. The White House claims that only 11-12 million people will use the state insurance plan, while the rest will chose private insurers. Opponents of the reform state that the public medical insurance can attract up to 100 million Americans (Chugh, 20-37).
In order to save clients in the private sector, three major groups of U.S. hospitals have announced their intentions to reduce costs by 155 billion dollars over 10 years. They plan to achieve this by cutting the amount of subsidies hospitals are given to provide emergency aid to uninsured Americans. As most of them will get insurance, these subsidies will be cut.
On the one hand, the reform will raise the insurance companies’ incomes, as medical insurance will be mandatory. Many new clients will be young and healthy people, who didn’t need insurance before. But on the other hand, the taxes will rise and the institute of public insurance will appear. Insurers claim that bigger taxes will only lead to bigger insurance premiums. Thus, people will either have to pay more, or choose state insurance. If millions of Americans chose the advantages of state insurance, this will lead to a sharp reduction of insurance companies’ incomes. Pharmaceutical companies are also afraid that the government will use the state medical insurance to reduce medicine prices (Fornili, 161-164).
The debate over the reform implementation has already reached far beyond the actual economic problems. The key topics are now ethics and morals.
Opponents of the reform claim that health care is not the kind of right to be provided to all citizens by the government. Free services, in their opinion, will lead to unnecessary use of hospitals and doctors, which will consequently increase costs and taxes. The second argument is that the common medical system does not provide common access to timely treatment (thus, in Britain or Canada, customers often have to wait for months or weeks to see a specialist). Decrease of the profitability factor importance will also reduce the attractiveness of investment into the new technologies and medications (Miles, 275-289).
Supporters of the reform state that in most cases illness or health does not depend on a person. Therefore, the treatment availability is determined by the right to life, not by the ability to pay for medical services. The implementation of the universal insurance system will enlarge the overall health rate and cut medical expenses, because patients will prefer having medical treatment before serious health problems occur, as part of regular medical examinations (Fornili, 161-164).
In site of the strong reaction of the opponents, Americans support main provisions of Obama’s plan. Polls have demonstrated that about 62-77% of Americans support the spreading of health insurance for the whole population of the country, considering it to be fair. Moreover, the proposed new system will diminish overall expenditures per patient. Patients will no longer have to pay extra money for needless services, which is a common practice today. In general, implementation of the universal health care system will allow to invest more funds into medicine, than when there is a great number of private insurance plans (Chugh, 20-37).