Universal health care, one the socialist ills that Ronald Regan spoke out against is currently one of the hot button issues in Congress this year. There is draft legislation circulating to create a national health insurance through medicare, expanded SCHIP, and Medicaid. Due to the fact, the final bill hasn't been presented yet, I would like to discuss the ideology of this issue.
The free market is the best catalyst for innovation and scientific advancement. There is no other system that provides the incentive needed to continually do bigger and better things. Having made this statement, I am immediately going to contradict myself in stating that I am fully (but cautiously) in support of universal health care.
There is nothing as counter-productive to proper preventative health care in America as the inaccessibility of affordable health insurance. The only people who are not in this boat are those who are lucky enough to land jobs in large corporations, organizations, or government -- otherwise millions of Americans are either forced to take unnecessary health risks if their financial situation is poor, shell out exorbitant premiums for plans with good coverage, or make due with lower premiums for plans that cover virtually no common health problems. This is a poor catalyst for encouraging people to take care of themselves. Aches and pains are ignored, little ailments often grow, and these people risk seeking preventative care after it is too late.
Our current health system is a disincentive for small business entrepreneurship. Without having any actual statistics I'm sure there are a large number of Americans who may hate the job they have now, may have wonderfully innovative entrepreneurial ideas, but will not turn innovative entrepreneurial ideas into productive businesses because the thought of leaving group employer provided health coverage is unacceptable.
Some may argue that universal health care is one step too close to Stalin-ism. I would agree with you if it weren't for the fact that we, as a nation, have had and accepted numerous socialist-esque programs for over 100 years. Here in Utah, for example, we fought off the evil capitalist ideals of competition in education. Our protection from fire, crime, foreign enemies, and libraries are all provided at the expense of taxpayer dollars. Why are we so unwilling to get together and make sure that everyone has unfettered access to medical care? No one would be afraid to call the police if they were becoming victims of a crime, and no American should have to fear seeking medical attention because of an inability to pay. To be honest, I now believe the need for universal health care for all Americans should trump the right to free education, or the right to social security when we retire.
How can we the people uphold the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness if we have to bind ourselves to jobs we don't like because of health benefits, or fear seeking necessary health care because we may not be able to afford it. The truth is we can't.
This is where we must be cautious, and I'm afraid there are no easy answers. Our national debt is out of control and ballooning, the tax code is abused and incomprehensible, and our economy is still floundering. The prospect of Congress or the President developing an hasty, under planned Social Security-esque regime is frightening. There are also other questions:
-- Would employers continue to provide coverage, or have any incentive to do so?
-- How high would effective tax rates rise in order to responsibly finance a National Healthcare System?
-- More frightening, would all US hospitals, and clinics become federally owned and operated?
However, I think is important to make affordable health care for everyone a reality. The how is a daunting question for men who are smarter than I, and one I hope can be answered.
Some of my random ideas -
-- Phase Social Security out and phase in Health care security (over several decades -- America's addiction to not saving for their own retirement is a habit that will be hard to break)
-- Force Americans to save/invest for retirement and make those invested funds sacred and untouchable until retirement. (for the lower/middle classes the EIC and/or ACTC could be forced into savings or investment accounts)
-- Phase down public funding for education (maybe making education more of a privilege will make our system better) (probably too radical an idea, even for this writer)
Anyways, I believe in this. I just wish I could believe our elected officials could make it happen with out bankrupting the nation.