“We have the most expensive health care in the world,” said Evan Fowler, the president of Western’s American Campaign Transparency. “We do have the most advanced health care in the world, with that said, we have arguably the best health care in the world, it’s just not available to all of our people, and that’s something a lot of people take issue with.”
For Americans, going to the emergency room can be as easy as paying a fraction of the procedure, or can be as hard as paying for the entire procedure out of pocket. Currently, having healthcare coverage – and the lack there of – has caused presidential candidates to alter our current system in order to tackle the rising costs of healthcare.
Right now, the amount of money going into health care has been steadily increasing in the United States, while people’s wages are decreasing, said Jered McCardle, associate director for the Associated Students’ Representation and Engagement Programs. More than any other time in history, individual Americans are spending much more on health care than they are on other items and needs
“All the money [people] spend on health care is money that can’t be spent on anything else,” McCardle said. “More and more money is spent on health care, which means less and less is spent on everything else, which is hurting a lot of other sectors.”
One of the bigger problems liberals have with the current health-care system is that it is not universal, Fowler said. In direct opposition, conservatives feel that too many public dollars are used on health care.
On June 28, 2012, The Supreme Court passed the Affordable Care Act proposed by President Barack Obama. This piece of legislation came about from the president’s attempts to reform health care. Obama’s plan was to increase the number of options for Americans through government aid and through enforcing laws that keep healthcare providers from denying people with pre-existing conditions, McCardle explained. The ACA provides all Americans with some form of healthcare – a baseline of sorts – while still allowing people to increase the coverage or type of health care they have.
In the past, health-care companies would not reimburse patients for something they considered “pre-existing” before they obtained health-care coverage; this led to uninsured individuals paying out of pocket for their health-care needs, McCardle said.
President Obama believed that health insurance companies, before passing his healthcare act, were taking advantage of people, namely those with “pre-existing” conditions, McCardle said.
The ACA also tells corporations that they must insure their employees, and that if they do not, they will be charged a $2,000 fee per uninsured employee. Interestingly enough, many corporations are fine with the fees because it makes more economic sense for them, Fowler explained.
The Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, believes that government assistance is actually denying a lot of people health care, McCardle said. He believes that President Obama’s plan for health care, also sometimes referred to as “Obamacare,” is going to increase prices and is another way for government to increase power; Romney also views the ACA as denying coverage to a lot of individuals, and also decreasing the number of available health-care options. One of the reasons why Romney wants to appeal the ACA is because it jeopardizes an individual’s right to choose if they want health care or not, McCardle said.
Romney has pledged a voucher system to replace the current health-care system in America, Fowler said. A voucher would provide Americans with $2,000 to spend however they need to on healthcare. The issue with this system is that the cost of healthcare is rising faster than the rate of inflation, thus these vouchers will be realistically meaningless unless they are pegged to the rising costs of healthcare, Fowler said.
“The voucher system is fiscally more conservative, and will probably do a lot to curb spending, but the thing is that it blatantly benefits people who are more wealthy and affluent,” Fowler said. “It’s also beneficial to the corporate sector, so it essentially leaves millions of Americans without adequate insurance, which will go back to the pre-Affordable Care Act situation.”
In regards to Western students, the ACA does require health-insurance companies to continue coverage of people 25-years-old and younger. Before the ACA, some health-insurance companies dropped people off their parents’ insurance at the age of 18 or 21, McCardle said.
“Almost every Western student has a family member or friend who has gone through some incredible accident or incident where they were hurt so badly and if they were not covered by health insurance, they may have seen exactly how extensive it can be,” McCardle explained.
Health care may not seem like a necessity to some, having access to health care is important to students, as well as all American citizens.
“Our health care system will be changed, whether Obama is elected, or Romney,” Fowler said.