OPINION

Benefits of a universal health care program

Matt Nowak
Matt Nowak

I am sure that some people think that they have a good reason to maintain our health care system as it is, where individuals have to get health insurance either on their own or through their employer, but I don’t see the advantage over a system in which we are all covered to some degree by a national system.

To me, the most obvious flaw in the present system is that it significantly limits the ability of individuals to work independently of big industry. Maybe that is the major reason that the present system is the way it is. It allows big industry to have tremendous control over individuals through the threat of health care and its high costs of living without insurance.

That is a very strange argument which really befuddles me because you would not think that Americans, who claim to desire personal independence, would willingly choose to live under a system that is controlled by industry. Not only do they choose to live under it, but many often defend it.

The most common defense that I hear is that they don’t want a national system because it would be part of a socialistic society which they claim to abhor, even though they benefit from our socialistic programs every day. It is especially confusing to hear much of the clamor about socialism from the region of the country that most benefits from socialistic programs like farm subsidies.

Maybe it’s a case of the “haves” versus the “have nots.” Many of us have health insurance and it is just too bad for those that do not, but we are not going to go down the socialist path to universal health care because we don’t want somebody getting something if they are not working for it.

That is also a strange argument because statistically speaking, the states in the Midwest take in far more government money than what they put in. In fact, most of the tax money comes from the coastal states.

There is also the argument that they do not want government “death panels” making decisions about health care. That’s an interesting argument that doesn’t hold water.

Here’s my take on that. A few years ago I had something wrong, but my insurance company insisted that I had to contact them for permission to go to the emergency room if I wanted them to pay for it.

After discussing my situation with an insurance company nurse over the phone, she denied me authorization to go. I went anyway and discovered that it would be a seven-hour wait, assuming no one came in with worse problems. In the morning I went to my doctor who sent me to the hospital for an examination and then she immediately put me in a bed for an appendectomy.

It was an emergency operation and because there may have been some miscommunication or maybe the insurance company just did not want to pay for it, I nearly had a very serious situation thanks to the insurance company’s “death panel” decision. So don’t get me stirred up about how much worse it would have been if it was a government program.

The most significant benefit to a universal program would be that any American could go out on their own and start a business without worrying about health care costs. Since small businesses are collectively the biggest American employer, this could really increase employment.

So, tell me again why you don’t want a universal health care program that would benefit all Americans. I can tell you tens of millions of reasons why we should have one.

Matt Nowak is a retired natural resources specialist and lives in Lansing.