America / Healthcare / Politics

The Politics of Healthcare Reform

It’s not often that an election is a major determinant to a single issue. Concerning the upcoming Presidential election, though, it “is all about health care.”

One of the few things we know is true in this election is that if Barack Obama wins, the Affordable Care Act will be fully implemented. If Mitt Romney wins, we will likely not see the ACA carried out as it stands. This is a pivotal issue in this election. The changes in the health care system, regardless of who wins the election, will affect a vast majority of American lives.

If President Obama wins, Medicaid will be expanded to cover those who earn up to 133% of the poverty line. For those who still don’t have insurance, they will have to purchase insurance — it has been ruled as a tax. People who earn from 133-400% of the poverty line and are uninsured will receive tax credits to help them be able to afford insurance, and if they don’t purchase insurance, they will have to pay a fine.

That may all sound fine, but consider this: there is no effort being made to decrease health care costs as a whole. The ever-increasing (and already astronomical) health care cost in the United States is one of the biggest drivers of the national debt.  We spend more money per person on health care than any other country. (See figure below.) Clearly, we are inefficient in our health care spending, and we need to do something about it.

Total Health Expenditure Per Capita, U.S. and Selected Countries, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2008

 [from Kaiser Family Foundation]

We need to slow the healthcare spending. Are giving tax breaks, expanding Medicaid, disincentivizing employers from providing health benefits, and all the unintended consequences from the Affordable Care Act the right way to go about it? It sounds like we’re going to need a better and more cost-effective reform. If we want the health care industry to be fixed, we need to find feasible long-term solutions rather than quick fixes to all the immediate problems.

Health care costs are a big factor in our huge deficit, which is a problem facing our nation that can no longer be ignored. The deficit will have huge impacts on the job opportunities, health care availability, educational programs, and more for the rising generation. We cannot set this problem aside for any longer. We need to make sure the future of this country is stable.

Since this election is so closely tied with reform in health care, and since health care reform will impact every American, it is vital to participate. The election can have an impact on your life. Vote in accordance with what you think the best solution to this monstrous problem is. It will take time, but if we all work hard to find feasible solutions, healthcare is a problem that can be overcome.