Recent Posts

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Dawn of a New Era: National Health Care?

The upcoming inauguration of President-Elect Obama has a lot of people excited, especially over his views on socialized medicine. Personally, I find the entire idea scary: to think, that our land of the Free and Home of the Brave could slowly be turning into an extension of another European nation?
Everyone's buzzing about "free healthcare," probably because ... it's free. At least on the surface. The idea of not having to pay for high medication costs and other procedures sounds alluring, I'm sure. But once you dig a little deeper, it becomes clear that the whole idea is a scary proposition. 
We've all read in the news in recent months and years about people hopping the border to the US to take advantage of better healthcare. To most US citizens, being put on a four-month waiting list to have a brain tumor looked at does not sound so appealing. I read not too long ago in the Wall Street Journal how death rates from prostate cancer, which is usually a relatively slow-spreading disease,  are apparently much higher than in the US, because patients don't even get to see a cancer specialist until they're in Stage Four cancer. Our rates of success and life expectancy are much higher here because we tend to treat cancer more aggressively. 
Hawaii became the first state to adopt universal healthcare for children, and it was a disaster, failing miserably after only seven months. Not only were budgetary problems a main concern, but the fact that people were dropping privatized care to opt for free coverage - which should be a warning flag to the kind of dishonesty and cheating that even this type of healthcare coverage is susceptible to. Multiply that on a national level, and it sounds like a surefire prescription for disaster. 
Nationalized healthcare looks good on paper - but let's examine some of the root causes for why so many people have high medical bills in the first place. We are considered, according to an article on, to be ranked the ninth-most obese country in the world, which should also not come as much of a surprise. 
Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in this country. And most causes of heart disease are from poor diet and lack of exercise - which makes you ... obese. For the sake of argument, I won't include the killers of people that are usually beyond their control, like Alzheimer's Disease and accidents. The list includes:
• Heart disease
• Cancer
• Lung diseases
• Diabetes
Barring certain cancers like breast and lung cancer not caused by smoking, you can bet these types of illnesses are offshoots of a greater problem, most likely the explanation behind America's top ten spot in the above-mentioned poll. Obesity can cause a wide range of problems, from the obvious heart disease and diabetes, to high blood pressure, stroke, joint pain and depression. It's no wonder, then, that of the top 20 most commonly prescribed drugs as noted by Pharmacy Times, five drugs are used to treat high blood pressure or heart-related ailments. And smoking, another major factor, causes many of the same type of risk factors. 
Here, take this pill: it'll cure everything
At some point we have to ask ourselves, why should the government - and essentially the taxpayers - be responsible for footing the bill for a nation of people who can't take care of themselves? We know smoking is bad for us, but obviously we do it anyway. We know that excessive eating has led to a nationwide epidemic of overweight people, and not just adults - childhood obesity is on the rise as well. And yet, what are we doing about it? 
One can argue that you make the decision to overeat/smoke/drink or whatever and should be responsible for the outcome. But it seems that more and more Americans who cry foul over the rising costs of healthcare and how everything should be "free free free!" are ignoring the fact that they're part of the problem. 
As much as our system is flawed, it still could be much worse. Perhaps the high costs for healthcare are just another price we pay for the freedom to make choices, however bad they are.