Legislators at the federal and state levels nationally are hearing it bigtime from their constituents about both the need for increased access to health care in America, and the approach taken by President Obama and most congressional Democrats. U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) is just one such lawmaker finding out how hot this issue is getting. A clip from a recent town hall meeting that Cardin hosted is here.
There is truth on both sides of this particular aspect of the health care debate. If individuals aren't insured, then aside from the potential dangers for themselves and their families, the costs for everyone else will go up. The uninsured contribute to the overall cost of insurance premiums for those who can afford coverage.
But is this really the main source of the skyrocketing cost of health care over the past several years? The more likely culprit would seem to be a wild third-party payer system, whereby hospitals and doctors, until lately, have been able to charge to insurance companies whatever costs they like. Like the auto body shop that will give your car the deluxe treatment once they know you won't be paying for most of it, these huge modern medical complexes have been built on extravagant insurance payments.
If well-intended legislators in both major parties want to find ways to make the third-party payer system more responsible, and devise at least a basic insurance coverage for the lower middle class and the impoverished, then that seems more reasonable than taking a good, but flawed, system away from everyone else who likes what they have. While it may sound Christian for government-oriented activists to want to distribute the existing health care goods around, it really is robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Christianity never advocates doing wrong to one person to help someone else. As a result, those who truly wish to help as many Americans as possible to obtain decent health care coverage should go to the root of the problem -- poor health habits, exorbitant and unnecessary costs for services, and enormous unemployment -- to allow people to purchase their own, more reasonably priced health insurance.
Our health care delivery system wasn't always as bad as it is now. If at all possible, we should chart a path that helps us to return to saner costs from a system that has bankrupted many, including the government. The idea that our federal and state governments have the resources to give quality health care to all right now is self-deceiving if the current budget numbers are true.