Does Health Care Measure Up?
The United States government has been considering health care reform since the 1930's. At that time, Franklin D. Roosevelt didn't press his ideas on Congress because he did not want to risk his other New Deal proposals. But other presidents, including Harry Truman in 1949 and Richard Nixon in 1971, have tried to introduce some type of health care reform, enjoying varying measures of success.
Why do we still need reform? Currently, the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have some type of national health care policy. According to a 2003 L.A. Times poll, "70% [of the respondents] consider the current [health care] system unsound," and the President has made health care one of his main policy issues. Many states, such as Florida and Oregon, have initiated their own plans to increase health care availability to their residents.
Yet, whether we all agree on the type of reform needed, or if it is needed at all, we do need to address some issues critical to many inner-city and rural residents. Do we have enough health care providers in rural areas? Is enough emergency care available in inner cities? Is affordable insurance coverage available to offset the cost of health care?
Janice Castro says in The American Way of Health that "there are twice as many physicians now as there were about 20 years ago," but today only about 30% of those doctors are General Practitioners. With the number of General Practitioners decreasing, the competition among cities and towns to attract these doctors becomes quite intense. Some hospitals hire recruiting firms to find doctors for them, while others pay between $1500 and $2250 for recruiting booths at annual me...
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...for many serious conditions, such as AIDS.
These sad facts lead to the conclusion that our health care system is definitely not serving the needs of many rural and inner-city residents. The combination of the shortage of General Practitioners and uncompensated care increases the strain on already overburdened hospitals, forcing many to close or restrict services the their customers, and in turn forcing medical costs up and raising again insurance premiums. All of this leads to a rise in the number in uninsured and underinsured Americans. These are financial and social costs that everyone ends up paying eventually, usually in the form of higher taxes. Perhaps now is the time for the government to initiate some type of health care reform targeted for rural and inner-city areas, instead of just considering it once more and passing it on for another year.