America needs better health care system


Jan Koch Special to the Leader

The private insurance market has had a strong hold on American’s health care for decades.

Americans have had to deal with high deductibles, co-pays and no maximum caps in their insurance plans. Patients who suffered from pre-existing conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening conditions have been denied coverage.

Back in 2008, when the costs for health care insurance were skyrocketing, the Democrats in Congress felt the need to help those who couldn’t get the health care they so desperately needed. Although they thought the best solution was a government single payer tax-funded plan, they compromised and settled for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which kept private insurance companies in the loop.

The developing countries of the world have better health care systems than the United States. The Legtum Institute, a London-based research institute, recently identified the top countries with the best health care systems. The United States ranks 30th.

The quality of health care in the institute’s study was measured by three key components: a country’s basic mental and physical health, health infrastructure, and the availability of preventative care. Many of the countries with the best health care rankings had universal health care and required mandatory health insurance for all its citizens.

Government’s job is to fill the gaps when the private market isn’t meeting the needs of its people. The ACA legislation allowed states to accept federal funds to help low-income individuals afford health insurance. Up until now, Wisconsin has not accepted the hundreds of millions in Medicaid funds for BadgerCare. Accepting the available funds would be an important step to achieving health care for all.

Many Americans under 65 would like health care which has the benefits of Medicare. In Wisconsin, one plan could be a “Public Option” for both individuals and employers of large or small businesses. According to Citizen’s Action, a promoter of the program, the cost would be less per person than private insurance.

Today there are many who face a constant threat of having their lives devastated by health disasters which could easily become financial disasters. Many with pre-existing conditions are worried that they will not be able to get insurance in the future. Everyone should have the piece of mind that comes from knowing that affordable health care will be there when it is needed.

Americans have said overwhelmingly that they don’t like our present health care system. Seventy percent have said they would rather have a plan like Medicare for All.

Change can invoke fear. There was resistance when the government first introduced the idea of Social Security and Medicare.

There might be some apprehension if we go away from private insurance’s domination of our health care, but isn’t coverage for every American worth it?

Jan Koch is a Shawano resident and the chairwoman for the Shawano County Democratic Party.