Part II, Medicine…

This is my first true rebuttal to President Bush’s 2007 State of the Union address. I plan to write in a sort of sequential order based on the topics that appeared in his speech. One of the first things he brought up was entitlements, state funded health care and retirement. Bush gave lots of figures in his proposal giving increased tax benefits and federal funding to cover lower-income homes and those without insurance through work.

I, however, do not believe this is enough. These tax breaks are nice for individuals, but do nothing to help businesses cope with the massive portion of expenses they cover in order to give insurance to their full-time employees. With the drastic increases in the costs of health insurance over the past decade, fewer small businesses can afford to cover their employees, so the burden has shifted to them. But for that to work out, those employees would have to be paid more in order to cover it, and so they go without coverage. Federally increasing the minimum wage will not cure this problem in any way, and has its own set of unfortunate consequences, which I will go into another time.

What, then, to do?

It is time for America to step up to the plate and accept the truth that health care is not a business, it is a societal need. We have the wealth and the capacity to provide medical care to each and every citizen. If business and government alike wish to keep everyone working, they should be completely in favor of not subsidizing the health insurance business and their administrations, and just giving untaxed money much more directly to the use of medicine.

My solution is for the United States to create a basic Universal Health Care service, and completely nationalize our current health care and insurance industry. I greatly applaud Massachusetts for being the forerunner of universal health coverage, and am behind California following suit. Let them be the testing grounds to set the stage for when it can be implemented across the entire nation.

This, I am sure, is overly idyllic. But, as hundreds of years of use now has shown, capitalism has its dehumanizing aspects, and this is one of those aspects. The idea that human health is a matter of profit for a company, rather than given its due consideration and dignity, is unfortunate. Ask almost anyone who is actually in the health care industry, and you’ll find countless scores of women and men devoted to improving the lives of others. The thought of making sure they make a few bucks when someone needs antibiotics for a minor infection does not even enter their minds.

I also think that, what it boils down to, is whether or not we are actually in this societal experiment together. We’re all here now, and we’re all neighbors. When one person is in need, others surely will step in to help. All people everywhere believe in this basic principle in one way or another, because it’s a factor of living as societies.

The biggest lynchpin to the whole scenario involves caring for those who no longer contribute to society, namely the elderly. This is where social security lines up with health care in terms of being in dire need of contributers vastly outnumbering consumers. To this, I say the retirement age absolutely must be increased. People live longer, and are far more able in their later years than they used to be. Also, a great many retired people would probably have wanted to work several more years before being ousted. The original retirement age of 55 was set in place when the average person did not live to that point, and those who lived beyond did not for very long. To this, I say the retirement age should be 75 or 80. This would change the ratio of those working against those drawing pensions a great deal.

There is far more to say, and many more details to work out in these ideas. And it is entirely possible my thoughts are completely flawed and could never work. Either way, I plan to keep pondering it and working out the numbers. Still, my common sense tells me that if we eliminate the business administration end of health care, and eliminate the idea of private insurance at all, medical treatments might just become cheaper.