America / Healthcare

The Land of the Free

According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans have started to remember what our country was founded on. The United States of America was created to be a place of freedom and liberty, separate from tyranny and oppressive monarchs. It was built on the expectation of limited government, and the opportunity for individuals to build the life they want for themselves. As the country has evolved, it has become harder to maintain that idealistic state. Americans have continued to promote freedom in most instances, but we especially struggle with healthcare. According to American values, we should all take individual responsibility of our own health, and deal with whatever consequences might occur. Yet as humans, we struggle with the ethics of a person’s health, and if it is immoral to let someone suffer because they could not handle that responsibility. With federal healthcare spending expected to be 29% of the budget in 2020, we need to look at the bigger issue behind that money. Why is so much federal money being used on people’s health, when so often that health is a result of their own choices?  The United States is at a crossroads, and needs to decide once and for all if it should defend its founding values, or succumb to a government takeover of healthcare. It is indisputable that government run healthcare might be easier, but what would be sacrificed? We risk losing our innovative procedures and products, choice of providers, and entire healthcare market. These are the very things that make the American healthcare system so uniquely strong. Yes, many other industrialized nations have “better” health outcomes (often measured with different standards), but they must limit much of their health decisions within strict government constraints. With the recent advent of the Affordable Care Act, Americans are now getting a flavor of what life would be if healthcare was considered a right, guaranteed by the government. Ever since the ACA’s birth, Americans have been doubting the federal government’s role in healthcare, and now in 2012, 54% of people do not think that healthcare is the federal government’s responsibility. As we struggle to deal with rising healthcare costs and longer life expectancies, we need to set ourselves apart from the rest of the industrialized word. This is the time to make a structural decision that will determine the path for the next century in the United States, and it will test our creativity and innovation. As we move ahead with reforming our system, along with Medicare and Medicaid, lawmakers should always keep American values in mind, and recognize that this is a crucial turning point. This might be one of our biggest challenges yet, but hopefully we will prevail in standing up for the land of the free.