The Two Sides to Healthcare Reform (OPINIONS)

(OPINION) Where to Go from Obamacare: Medicare-for-All

by Daniel Song, Staff Writer

Time and time again, a Republican dominated Congress has come increasingly close to repealing the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act in an attempt, but fell short each time by only a few votes. The Republicans’ goal: the reduction of healthcare premiums, which have spiraled in the past few years. But the GOP is going at this all wrong; rather than reduce premiums on the private market, we should eliminate private premiums all together. In short, America should adopt Senator Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All Act of 2017, inaugurating a service similar to the National Health Service in England.

 

The United States is the only OECD country, or developed country, that doesn’t guarantee healthcare for all of its citizens, as citizens who don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare are expected to pay their own healthcare premiums. And while some may cite the fact that the United States has access to the greatest healthcare in the world, there is sizable stipulation: not all in the United States can afford such access. This is seen in the fact that, even after Obamacare reforms, between twenty and forty thousand people die every year as a result of lack of health care, and half of all personal bankruptcies are as a result of exorbitant medical costs. Compared to other countries that have government-sponsored healthcare, nobody dies from the lack of health insurance, and nobody goes bankrupt due to an inability to pay. Additionally, while many claim that such countries “ration” care, they only ration it by who needs it most, whereas, in the United States, it is rationed by one’s ability to pay. Furthermore, the overall quality of healthcare in countries with such a healthcare system ranks much better than the United States.

 

It is ironic that the United States has a lower quality care, as the U.S. spends more on healthcare per capita than any other country in the world, as much of consumer dollars are swallowed by administrative costs, as well as inflating prices to make as much profit as possible. And while some may argue this system is too expensive, it may actually save the country money, as access to preventative care saves billions by diagnosing illnesses in their early stages.

 

Medicare-for-All is a cost-saving solution that expands access to healthcare to everybody in this country, alleviating the worries of unaffordable medical bills and could potentially reduce premiums. It is time for the United States to follow the lead of other developed nations and provide government-sponsored healthcare to everybody.

 

(OPINION) Where to Go from Obamacare: Free Market

By Louis Gleason, Editor-in-Chief

Many view the election of President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election as a referendum on the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, and the consensus is in: people want change. No longer is the question if we should change, but it is how we should change. The progressive wing of the Democratic Party, led by Senator Bernie Sanders, has proposed the United States government phase in expansions of the Medicare program until all Americans are eligible to enroll and have the government pay for our healthcare premiums, deductibles, and copays. Meanwhile, the GOP struggles to find a bill that at least fifty of their Senators will be able to support. But repealing Obamacare isn’t enough to liberate Americans from the crushing costs of medical bills. Instead, we need a true free market.

 

Many have claimed that privatized healthcare is an example of market failure, but how can it be market failure if we don’t truly have a market? The United States government has legislated so many barriers, and put up so much red tape that healthcare costs have no choice but to go up. This is no free market.

 

If we want lower healthcare premiums, we need to engender competition, a component severely lacking in the modern healthcare market largely due to the role insurance plays in the healthcare process. In a hypothetical scenario, Party A is the consumer, a patient who needs medical attentions, Party B is the hospital, who will provide said medical attention, and Party C will be the health insurance company, who will fund the medical attention. When all three parties are involved, Party B is able to inflate their prices because Party C will pay whatever they demand, and Party A won’t care because very little comes out of their pocket. Now imagine only Party A and Party B are involved. Party A is incentivized to seek out the highest quality medical care, at the lowest possible price. Now, Party B is unable to inflate their prices, because they want to attract several Party A’s to their business, and the only way to do that is to provide a product at the lowest possible price. Once one hospital in the area does this, several other hospitals will do the same, all competing to have the lowest possible price to attract customers. This cycle will initiate a drop in overall medical expenses, and will save people money if they are don’t consume a product.

 

If the institution of health insurance was, however, to be maintained for care, which can be another viable route, the government would need to allow insurance companies to sell their service across state lines, thereby creating a national market in which insurance companies compete for customers. Should this happen, consumers will flock to the company which offers the lowest price, and initiate a similar cycle in which companies will fight for customers by offering the best product for the lowest price. The same goes for drug companies. Americans aren’t allowed to purchase medicine from other developed countries, granting a select few pharmaceutical companies a monopoly on some products, which allows such notorious markups. Through allowing the purchase of medicine from other OECD countries, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany, the pharmaceutical industry will be forced to compete with other companies, and will have to compete for customers by offering the highest quality product for the lowest possible cost.

 

At the end of the day, alleviating the unaffordability of healthcare is as simple as restoring the competition the government has robbed the American healthcare market of. As of now, the United States isn’t in a free market, but we should be.

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