Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Time for Universal Health Care Coverage?

Harvard’s Dr. David Himmelstein certainly thinks so. A study done to discern the causes of U.S. personal bankruptcies revealed that medical bills make up a majority of the losses. Furthermore, the researchers, from Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and Ohio University, found that more than 75% of these families had health insurance but still could not handle their medical debts. These findings confirmed for Himmelstein his belief that middle-class Americans are not adequately covered at all by health insurance.

Currently, the US is a mélange of several different public programs and employer-sponsored health insurance that neglects about 15 percent of the population. Himmelstein and others, such as Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen, believe that the nation would be in better condition if they adopted a single-payer plan, where the government would coordinate health coverage.

Obama, although willing to consider making health insurance mandatory, does not feel the same way about the prospects of single-payer national health insurance coverage. There exist no signs of this kind of endorsement.

Nevertheless, health care reform has become a huge concern nationwide, potentially affecting millions of Americans for better or for worse. The current direction of reform has implications for all people with health care issues, including those living with multiple sclerosis. The study found that in 2007, patients with MS paid a staggering mean of $34,167 out of pocket. Whether it be through single-payer plans, or restructured health care plans, something must be done to mitigate these expenses. In what fashion, that cannot be determined at this time.
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