2008 Election Healthcare Concerns
The 2008 U.S. Presidential election is less than a year away and there’s no doubt that healthcare is one of the major issues. In fact, in polls asking which issues are most important to voters, healthcare has ranked as high as third, after the war in Iraq and terrorism. In an effort to help you understand the various healthcare concerns and sort through the candidates’ proposed solutions, HealthCentral will soon be unveiling a new site dedicated to healthcare issues in the ’08 election.
In connection with the new site, between now and November ’08, I’ll be periodically writing on the topic “Covering the Uninsured.” Why did I choose that particular topic? Because it’s a subject near and dear to my heart. For the past two years I’ve had no health insurance, and the chances of me ever getting any are somewhere between slim and none.
Unfortunately I’m not alone. No one knows for sure how many Americans are uninsured. A popular statistic being quoted says that 40+ million Americans do not have health insurance. However, that figure has been questioned, since one fourth of those included in the estimate are not citizens and nearly another quarter are people who can afford health insurance but choose not to purchase it. But even after deducting those two groups, we still have more than 20 million people who do not have access to healthcare coverage – either because they can’t afford it or because insurance companies refuse to cover them.
I fall into the latter group. Because I have a chronic illness (fibromyalgia) and take medication to control my blood pressure (which has remained at normal levels for several years), no insurance company will touch me. I’ve even tried to get a policy with a huge deductible just to cover catastrophic events, but they still won’t consider me.
Being in this predicament, one might assume that I’d be all for universal healthcare. After all, I’m one of the people it would help the most. You may be surprised to learn I'm not. I’ve talked with too many people who live in countries with government-run healthcare programs and heard too many stories about how long they have to wait to even see a doctor and how poor the quality of care is. I’ve also talked with American veterans who can’t get decent care from the one federally-run healthcare program we already have.
So what am I in favor of? I don’t know yet. I do know the status quo is not acceptable. Covering the uninsured is an incredibly complicated issue with no simple answers. Over the next few months, I’ll attempt to define the problem, analyze the positions of different candidates, and share my personal opinions (for whatever they’re worth). I hope you’ll join in the discussion and share your thoughts and opinions, too. And when all is said and done, I hope you’ll vote.