Health care crisis needs a solution

claire.abent

For up to one-third of the population, affordable health care is something that is too far out of reach. Advances in medical care are made everyday, but what does that matter if no one can afford to pay for it?

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 45 million Americans are currently surviving without any form of health insurance. And of those people, eight out of 10 are employed or dependents of someone who is employed and come from low to moderate income families. In addition to those 45 million people, another 38 million have health insurance that is insufficient or inadequate.

Programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, which are government-run provide assistance to a select population of those who cannot otherwise afford or have access to health insurance. But not everyone qualifies for those benefits.

Those who cannot get benefits from their employers or assistance programs are forced to pay for their own health care. Private insurance is often high-priced and thus unattainable for many. This can mean that the uninsured often delay medical care, which can lead to more serious health problems. The subsequent medical bills leave millions of people so far in debt that they may never recover.

Even for those who have health coverage, prices are rising dramatically. Over the past six years, premiums have gone up four times faster than wages have, according to the Kaiser Foundation.

Of the uninsured, 71 percent are adults age 19-54, a demographic group that college students fall into. I know plenty of students who have skipped out on going to the doctor just because they know they can’t afford to pay the bills.

Here at NMU, as at most college campuses, we have access to a relatively inexpensive health care at the Vielmetti Health Center. But the sad fact is, health centers are not equipped to handle all medical issues and do not have the operating budgets to stay open at all hours. Students are often forced to seek care at hospitals, a place at which medical costs can quickly rack up.

This is the bottom line is: no one should ever have to forgo medical care just because he or she cannot afford it.

This health-care crisis has become an issue of increasing importance in the upcoming election. Both of the major party candidates have developed extensive plans for reforming the health care system.

In a bare-bones breakdown, Republican nominee John McCain’s plan offers up a tax credit to individuals and families in order to offset the cost of health care. Individuals would receive $2,500 and families would receive $5,000 to pay for the health insurance plan of their choosing. He also proposes that people have choices beyond employer-based insurance programs.

Essentially, Democratic nominee Barack Obama is proposing a new national health care program.The health plan would allow Americans to buy health coverage that is similar to the plan that is currently available to members of Congress. No one would be turned away under this plan.

The candidates seem to agree that health care should be affordable and portable (meaning it follows a person from job to job). Both candidates also agree that there is a health care crisis and that a solution is needed soon.

Who has the best solution? I’m not sure, but I know that the current system is failing far too many people. I’m challenging whoever ends up in the White House in January with fixing the health care problem that has been plaguing the country for far too long.