BY COLLEGE DEMOCRATS
Published October 21, 2008
The United States spends more money on health care than any other country in the world, but falls far behind other developed countries in the care it provides. In the past eight years alone, health insurance premiums have doubled, rising 3.7 times faster than wages. On top of this, 47 million Americans still do not have health insurance — including 9 million children. Inefficient and poor quality health care costs our nation up to $100 billion every year. At this point, we can’t afford not to change our current health care system.
Barack Obama’s health care plan provides every American with access to quality and affordable health care. First, if you like your current health insurance, you get to keep it. The change you’ll see under Obama’s plan is that your costs will go down by as much as $2,500 per year. Second, those without insurance will be able to purchase it through the National Health Insurance Exchange. Through this program, individuals and families will buy into a general public plan (with benefits similar to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which covers members of Congress) or purchase coverage through private insurance companies.
All insurance providers participating in the program will be required to cover pre-existing conditions so that all Americans, regardless of previous health conditions, can have access to affordable care. Most important, Obama’s plan will expand Medicaid, Medicare and the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan by adjusting the eligibility requirements to include more uninsured and underinsured Americans. An Obama administration would also require that all have health insurance, ensuring that no child will go without health care any longer. It’s disgraceful that a country as advanced as ours allows its children to slip under the radar and suffer from untreated illnesses.
Obama’s plan also accounts for all of the costs of its new programs. Simply eliminating the vast, costly inefficiencies in our current system will cover most of these costs. The Obama administration will implement a series of reforms. These include lowering prescription drug costs by allowing more generic drugs into the market, and moving all medical records onto an electronic database. The electronic database alone will save our nation $77 billion.
On the other hand, John McCain wants to tax health benefits for the first time in American history. The number of uninsured citizens would increase over the long-term. McCain has voted against increasing funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program. His plan also disregards other crucial care, including mental health — covered only for military retirees — and women’s health (McCain and Sarah Palin don’t believe in the importance of contraception that 98 percent of women use at some point in their lives).
As college students, we have a particularly vested interest in the health care debate. Some of us are already struggling to pay for our own health insurance. Others are putting themselves at risk and going without health insurance because its costs are prohibitive. The vast majority of us will be dropped from our parents’ health insurance as soon as we finish college, forcing us to find a plan we can afford. With so much immediately at stake, we simply can’t accept the same old solutions. Make sure you cast your vote on Nov. 4 for a healthier America.
This viewpoint was written on behalf of the University's chapter of the College Democrats.