Health Care: True or False?

Health Care: True or False?

A Story by Jester

Just something that I did for my history class that I liked.



In America, there are currently 250 million people with health care. Healthcare that is supposed to provide everything they need to stay healthy. However, does healthcare really provide for them? Healthcare costs have begun to rise and in recent years, many US citizens have had to drop their insurance because they aren’t able to afford it. For those of them that still have insurance, I have to wonder: does it cover all of their needs?

 Many Americans take prescription drugs, most of them completely necessary. Does insurance cover the costs of prescription drugs that might be vital to the person’s life? In addition, just who does have insurance, anyways? Is it the middle class citizens who are more likely to need it, or is it the high class? In an environment where many men pay the bills by working construction you have to wonder if they’re getting health insurance that could save their lives if something happened. It’s slightly disturbing when you think that someone could die because they don’t have health insurance or couldn’t afford something that their insurance wouldn’t cover. What is the truth with insurance? Will it help us in our time of need? On the other hand, is it only here to get our money? 

In modern America, statistics by the United States Census Bureau state that around 84 percent of citizens have health care. Of those 84 percent, 60 percent got their healthcare through an employer, while only 9 percent purchased it directly from the health companies. Around 27 percent of those Americans who have healthcare are actually covered by various government agencies. How is that when, since 2000, when the Bush administration took over, people without healthcare has risen almost 9 million, 2.2 million from 2005 to 2006 alone? Nearly 90 million people, a third of our population, have spent at least part of the last several years without health insurance.

Even children have not escaped the wave of un-insurance that has stricken the nation. The amount of children uninsured has increased by over 600,000, bringing the amount, in 2006, to just around 9 million children, almost 12 percent of all U.S. children.

But why are the numbers of uninsured increasing? One of the reasons is that many people can’t afford the rising cost of healthcare. Many employers also can’t afford to offer healthcare to its employees, as the percent of people who had job based health insurance dropped from 70 percent in 1987 to 59 percent in 2006. Almost one third of U.S. firms no longer carry health benefit options, and many small businesses can’t afford to carry it. For one small business, The Inn on Pamlico Sound, owner and innkeeper Steve Nelson reports that for him to cover his seventeen employees, himself, and his family, it costs him over 40,000 dollars each year. And even then there are severe limitations, like the fact that the “preferred hospitals” are all in North Carolina. Blue Cross, the insurance company that Mr. Nelson gets his coverage from, refuses to allow those covered on the program to go to a hospital in a different state, so what happens if on a vacation one of the covered gets injured? Would they have to fly to North Carolina before they can receive medical attention? Why is it that with so many people without healthcare that we still see commercials on television offering healthcare for “low rates” and “guaranteed acceptance?”

Why does the U.S., supposedly the most forward moving country in the world, not have universal healthcare when it has worked so well for so many other countries? Why was Hillary Clinton, when she proposed universal healthcare when her husband took office, shot down? Perhaps it was because of the amazing profits that healthcare companies where getting, and the fact that they knew if America got universal healthcare that their profits would go down.

What would someone who has universal healthcare say about the American healthcare system? America’s neighbor to the north, Canada, has enjoyed the benefits of universal healthcare for some time. What would a Canadian have to say about the way that the American healthcare system works?

Several Canadians have given their opinion on both universal health care, like they have, and the American health care system. Via email I have asked for what they think of the American health care system, and here’s what they had to say:

Mr. Geoff Riggs says “I see the strengths of the US system primarily in 2 areas.  Firstly, by a more close alignment of the payer and beneficiary, the US system acts more like a market and treatment tends to be available for people who are able to pay for it personally or via an insurance company.  Our system tends to have extremely long waiting lists for fairly simple processes, things like hip replacements for example.

“The second advantage of the American model is also related to the market mechanism.  The Canadian system basically precludes entrepreneurial individuals and firms from making reasonable profits within our system (outside of things like dentistry which are a user pay system)  The freedom of US  firms to make a profit from the provision of healthcare services provides a powerful investment incentive.  I view US facilities, equipment, research infrastructure, and the pool of professionals available to the US system as being superior to ours from a technical standpoint.

“The disadvantages of this approach aren’t surprising.  Foremost there is the equity issue.  It’s not true that everybody is treated equally within the Canadian system as the chronic shortages lead to “insiders”, people with sufficient means to get emergency care outside of Canada , and people with flexible work hours have an advantage here.  However, my impression of the US system is that if you have no insurance or money, you’re basically entirely out of luck obtaining even basic or emergency healthcare services.  In Canada by contrast, nobody is utterly excluded or denied (eventual) treatment by government funded providers.

“The second major weakness of the US system in my view is the tremendously inefficient cost structure. I read once that the per capita cost of the publicly funded healthcare system in America exceeds that of the in Canada , in spite of our having “universal” publicly funded care.  I found that mind boggling, particularly as it’s evident in our system that there exists little incentive for providers to become more cost-efficient, since they are either directly government run or prevented by our government from making large financial returns.  Obviously the cost of the private system in the US on a per capita basis also exceeds that in Canada , probably by several orders of magnitude since we don’t really have much in terms of a private system.  I think an enormous issue in the US is the amount of costs imposed on the healthcare system by malpractice and other litigation and by the insurance costs this gives rise to.  Given that employers bear the brunt of a lot of these inefficiencies in terms of insurance costs, I view this is a major problem for your country’s medical system.

“Well, that’s a quick snapshot; given my own station in life I’d say that I’d personally choose the US system over the Canadian as things stand, but I’d sure be singing a different tune were I to find myself unemployed.”

                 Mrs. Marion Abell has stated that “My thoughts about the American system is that it is excellent if you have good insurance and lots of means.  As it is a for profit business, the costs are high. Most Canadians have no idea what the costs are [for health care] as we never see a bill.  We have an excellent hospital here associated with a university medical school and the care is up to date in all specialties.


            “As Canadians, although our system has waiting lists for non emergency procedures we are not charged and it is accessible to all whatever their means.  That means the poor and disadvantaged are taken care of as well.”


         Roger Shanks has said thatI am not totally familiar with the US system, but I hear about individuals and families that cannot afford health care and don't get taken care of when they are sick.  I also hear about people who pay very high prices for health insurance to make sure that they will be cared for if they should need it.  We are luck in Canada that we have universal access to care if we need it.  We pay a health premium with our provincial taxes, it costs my family about $1500 per year.  We do not have a perfect system, because sometimes there are long waits for some procedures, and because we are not allowed to have private health care people who could afford to pay extra cannot do this to get taken care of sooner.  Some Canadians go to other countries to have medical procedures done, such as India and other countries in Southeast Asia.” 

               When asked for her opinion Mrs. Carmen Mueller responded with “ Our extremely expensive cost of hospital and medical services are increasing given demands of an aging population.
               One tier universal system means greater waiting time to receive services for everyone. No realistic option to pay extra in order to get quicker service. It is in effect a socialist system of delivering services and as such it does not benefit from the innovations and ingenuity of a free market system. For example many Canadians do not wish to wait for a critical MRI in
Toronto will simply go to Buffalo (NY) and pay for these services.

             “Benefit of universal health care...  The high cost of health care under the free market approach makes it almost impossible for most of the population to afford full medical coverage. Often people in their later years or in a critical juncture in their lives may be forced to deplete their acquired assets in order to provide health care for a loved one. In addition there Is a large part of the population that simply cannot afford any health insurance and have to depend up the extremely underfunded health care programs provided by state and federal government agencies. It is of some interest to note that almost every relatively affluent society in the Western world has some form of universal health care.  The Europeans in general and the British in particular think that the country that does not adequately care for it's sick and dying is a country lacking in values. Having said that, however, the enormous cost of providing universal health care could eventually bankrupt some countries.
          There are some that believe that the answer lies somewhere between the two systems.  The compromise solution would provide for universal Medicare but at the same time allow individuals to choose private medical services.
           Unfortunately, this solution is said by some to be unworkable because a two tiered type system would eventually erode universal health care.  Hence, there are no easy solutions.  One thing we know for certain, is that in
Canada we pay a lot more taxes than Americans.”

         1500 dollars (even with the exchange rate) would still be less than what most Americans pay for health care. So why is it that so many people are afraid of universal health care? As you can see, even from an outside party, the flaws, and strengths, of our health care system are fairly obvious. I can agree with Mr. Riggs that as long as you’re in a job with high income or health care coverage, then this system works fairly well. However, that is hardly the way it is for many Americans, resulting in our health care system being insufficient. It would seem that the overall opinion of the Canadian’s that I have interviewed via email (please note that not all of these appear on this paper) is that while the Canadian universal health care system is not entirely flawless, for a most it is a good choice, and it seems that our system would only benefit the wealthy.

For some people, the American health care system has worked. Just ask Mr. Arthur Nelson, who has had multiple surgeries, including replacing the main aorta in his back with an artificial vein, twice. However, for some people, health care comes with far too many limitations. Just ask Mrs. Sarah  Smith* who, after breaking her elbow in an accident, ended up having to sell a car to pay for expenses when she found that her husband’s health care wouldn’t pay for the care she needed.

        All in all, the health care system that America currently has does possess some major problems; if we can clean it up, and add some of the parts of universal health care, then perhaps we could have a system that takes care of its people, on time and without outrageous expenses. If America can look at the other major countries of the world, and the health care systems that they enjoy, than perhaps we too can be content with a new system that may come with extreme change to our current stagnant system.






Quotes have come from various sources and they should be stated before or after the quote.


*Please note that as this is not a direct quote from the person involved, the last name has been changed for privacy issues


Information on Arthur Nelson has come from his son Steven Nelson.


The quotes on this paper are of the individual’s themselves, and should not be interpreted as the opinion of the population at large.

© 2008 Jester

Author's Note

Sorry about the section of text that's weirding out, for some reason it won't fix no matter what I do.

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wow, that's really cool.

Posted 15 Years Ago

I'll have to post mine when I get the chance. CAR POLLUTION AND GREEDY B******S dun dun dunnnnnnnnn. Your essay moved me. No wonder our teacher gave you a good grade on it. MINE WILL BE ON HERE BY MONDAY PPL! RAHAHA. Okay... random things that actually have to do with your essay/whatever you want to call it:
It is true. People are slowly, but gradually, becoming unemployed, and many more people are losing health insurance. Those that are smart enough to get health insurance through a company, rather than through work, is good, but most of the time costs more than we can actually afford!
Costs: Money is the main thing in our freaking economy. We deserve to get milk at the same money equivalent as Canada. (unless their milk is more expensive >>) Gas is going up and up and up and up but that's not just the U.S's problem, it's other people. we're such greedy b******s (Government!)
YAY HEALTHCARE STORY! I had an eye surgery done because I had a severe cataract in my left eye. (Not a car... google it if u want to know what it is) My parents wouldn't tell me how much it cost until a year or so ago. The surgery was like, 3-4 years ago. It was about 6,000 dollars or something nuts like that, but thank god insurance covered it. Eyeah... yay eye surgerys >> and glasses, and braces that i need but cant get. *YAR HEALTH INSURANCE* *rant*

And now i'll get shot for the things i just talked about /bow

Posted 15 Years Ago

Well well! I hope I don't start preaching here, but this issue, unfortunately, is one I know all too well.

I've encountered some nasty discrimination because of the fact that I don't pay for my insurance, because I get government healthcare. Once, I had to have CAT-scans done, and I watched patient after patient go ahead of me, even people that signed in after I did. After almost two hours, we finally asked what was going on, and the girl that had signed me in had "misplaced" my folder, then went out to lunch. They didn't even know I was there, and were wondering why I was sitting out there so long. Even for those of us 'lucky' enough to have insurance, if you don't look right, or have the 'right kind' of insurance, you'll be kept waiting.

After my experiences and discrimination here in the States, Canada sounds like the Promised Land. I have to agree with Elemiah's idea (don't worry, you know a lot more than the right-wingers) though my only problem is, "How do you know if they really can afford it or not?" I know too many people that cheat the system on a regular basis.

But that's neither here nor there; I agree, we need a MAJOR healthcare system overhaul. Experimenting, despite what many bigwigs seem to think, is NOT a bad thing. We need changes, and we need them 10 years ago.

Posted 15 Years Ago

I think in the end, it all comes down to money. In the US, if you have more money, you'll get taken care of faster. In Canada, it's more of a first come first serve thing. Neither one is really fair, but at least in Canada you don't get stuck with extensive bills. But if you have the money to cover it, then it might make more sense to go somewhere where they're getting more money to operate on you. I suppose the best idea would be to combine the two somehow. Have it be free for people who can't afford it (but it'd still be first come first serve), and those who can afford it get to have things done faster.

But then again, what do I know about anything.

Posted 15 Years Ago

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4 Reviews
Added on May 2, 2008
Last Updated on May 4, 2008



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