America currently spends 1/6 of its GDP on healthcare, more than any other industrialized nation in the world. Now many agree our current healthcare is broken, yet Obama's healthcare reform is stalled because of confusion: what exactly does the reform do? Obama's plan provides more affordable coverage to more citizens and eliminates profit of insurance companies. However, opponents believe the reform will introduce death panels, increased debt, and lack of options in healthcare plans. Despite so many conflicting opinions - blogs, newspapers, magazines, television - I agree with health care reform because healthcare needs to provide more efficient healthcare for everybody.
This country has always epitomized freedom and democracy, but at what point does healthcare become a privilege and not a right? America has always prided itself on maintaining a free market and capitalism, where the even most humble men and women can build wealth and accomplishment through hard work and perseverance. Yet some of the poorest Americans are trapped in a land of misfortune, of crushed dreams, endless workdays, and strained backs.
In her book Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich depicts the injustice befalling the working class poor. They work full time low-wage jobs just to pay for rent and necessities, let alone healthcare. The greedy employers obtain the profit for their subordinates' hard work. This characterizes the dark side of capitalism; the wealth and power concentrates in the select few. The top 1% of families in America own an astounding 34.3% of all wealth in the country. Although capitalism provides a strong incentive for the chance to improve one's self, it limits the incentive for altruism.
This is a call for conscious capitalism, where healthcare must become a universal right. Marcus Davies, a Canadian resident and official of the Saskatchewan Medical Society, remarked, "[In Canada] we keep people waiting to limit costs. But you have to understand something basic about Canadians...we don't mind waiting all that much so long as the rich Canadian and the poor Canadian have to wait about the same amount of time." In contrast, healthcare in America is rationed according to wealth, where the poor don't receive treatment until they reach emergency conditions. For the integrity of the American Dream, universal healthcare must give all the fairest chance to succeed in the land of opportunity.
Despite the cost, our national healthcare fails to adequately care for Americans. Our current healthcare program in the United States leaves 47 million uninsured. Privately owned insurance companies rake in millions through shady but lucrative business practices. We rank 37th in the world in terms of healthcare, a number belied by our huge expenditures on healthcare. Many regard health reform as long overdue; Obama said in his address "I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last". The reform bill promises to not only provide coverage to all Americans, but to do it more cheaply and comprehensively than before.
Yet some websites and blogs condemn Obama's reform as "wasteful" or worse. The author of a popular conservative blog called "Common Sense from a Common Man" claims to have deciphered the 1000+ pages of the bill, revealing that it would give healthcare to illegal immigrants, prevent choice in health plan, and set doctor's wages. A similar blog, the Foundry, claims that the new health care bill would add 9.2 trillion dollars of new debt to America's already unsustainable budget.
On the other hand, the government has set up a website dedicated to educating citizens about the new bill and debunking false claims. The new plan will require minimum coverage, but as Newsweek elegantly put it, "there are only floors, not ceilings". The plan does not cover illegal immigrants; Medicare, the closest thing to the bill, has not experienced identity fraud. The bill will not regulate salaries for doctors, even those participating in the new plan. Finally, if the bill does not substantiate savings, the government will implement tax cuts immediately.
Since I was born I have never worried about receiving treatment. My mother's employer, Safeway, provides healthcare for my entire family. They have covered necessities-flu shots, treatment for my broken arm, second degree burns. I can get a checkup for a 25 dollar deductible. I have health coverage far superior than the average American. That is unacceptable. Obama's health reform bill is our chance to offer the same coverage other nations have been offering for years, coverage many desperately need. Passage of the bill adds another fundamental right for the citizens of the home of the free.
William Zhu, an eleventh grade student, was encouraged by his English teacher to submit this essay as part of a teen perspectives series on healthcareteen perspectives series on healthcare. He enjoys playing sports and card games.