This past week, the mainstream news outlets again discussed the “crisis” of uninsured Americans. A figure of approximately 40 million and roughly 15% of the population was promoted. The intimation, of course, being that this group of people cannot obtain medical treatment, and so that our system must be unfair. In the real world, most people in this uninsured group do gain access to health care if they desire it.
Most people in America have Health Insurance coverage through the workplace, and the economy has, no doubt, contributed to there being less insured people. There is another reality however, and that is that even with the figures being featured, 85% of Americans do have Health Insurance. Of the uninsured, many are young persons aged 20-30 who are healthy and won’t spend anything for coverage, and much of the rest of this population are persons between jobs who usually stay without coverage for a short period of time.
Is there a Health Care Crisis in America? This depends on whether the glass is viewed as half full or half empty. There are plenty of concerns, but the reality (I sure am using this word a lot) is that most people are able to find methods to become insured if they want to. We have some of the finest physicians and hospitals in the world right here in the United States, and many people from all over the globe come here seeking medical treatment. The main concern we have today is the cost of Health Care. This will be a long-range concern, and it is not because of defending lawsuits, the greedy insurance companies and HMO’s, or the Pharmaceutical industry. It is because of two main factors, the aging of America, and new technology, very expensive propositions that are not going to change.
Many people, in their heart of hearts, feel that socialized systems such as they have in some European nations and in Canada could be a solution. Health Care overall in the socialized systems however, is not as good as in the United States, and the economy suffers. The problems caused by socialism are so numerous that that would need to be another column.
So what, may you ask is the solution? The answer is that the solution will continue to evolve. Keeping the Heath Care Financing System healthy is what this is all about, and the American way will be to pursue an environment where there is more competition in the insurance marketplace, more favorable taxation benefits to businesses and individuals, and an awareness that quality medical treatment comes with a price tag.
Rick Stark is an insurance agent serving Broward County Florida since 1990 and is a past President of the Broward Association of Health Underwriters.