The issue, then, is over what exactly is broken about it. Liberals generally believe the only way to fix the system is for government to operate it, the way Canada and the United Kingdom run their systems -- via "universal health care." Conservatives, on the other hand, disagree with this notion and contend that the American government is wholly unequipped to take on such a huge endeavor, and even if it were, the resulting bureaucracy would be terribly inefficient -- like most government programs.
Conservatives aren't just naysayers, however. Their plan is more optimistic in tone, because they believe the current system can be fixed with reform measures such as promoting competition between health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, reforming the Medicare payment system, establishing clear standards of care and ending the "lottery" court system by capping damage awards ordered by activist judges.
Latest DevelopmentsDemocrats on Capitol Hill have been floating the concept of a single-payer health care system similar to the ones currently in practice in Canada and the United Kingdom.
Conservatives staunchly oppose this idea on the grounds that -- regardless of what filmmaker Michael Moore says -- government-run health care systems are notoriously slow, inefficient and costly.
Before he was elected in 2008, President Barack Obama promised to save the "typical American family" $2,500 annually by reforming the insurance market and creating a "National Health Insurance Exchange." In his press releases, the president claims the Obama/Biden plan will "Make Health Insurance Work for People and Businesses -- Not Just Insurance and Drug Companies."
The National Health Insurance Exchange is ostensibly modeled after the Congressional health benefits plan. The plan would allow employers to reduce their premiums by switching most of their employees over to the government program (of course non-unionized workers would have no say in the matter at all). The new nationalized health care plan would then absorb these new individual health care costs, bloating an already overburdened federal government even further.
BackgroundCosts surrounding the health care industry are inflated by three very particular elements, two of which involve the insurance industry. Because of (in many cases) preposterous court settlements that create a veritable lottery for plaintiffs seeking damages, liability insurance for health care providers is out of control. If doctors and other medical professionals want to continue to operate and generate a profit, they often have no choice but to charge exorbitant fees for their services, which are then passed along to the consumer's insurance company. Insurance companies in turn raise premiums on the consumers. Physician and consumer insurance plans constitute two of the culprits in the high cost of health care, but both are related directly what is happening in American courtrooms.
When consumer insurance companies receive the bills for these high-cost services, it is in their best interest to find reasons not to pay or reimburse the insured. In many cases, these companies are unable to successfully avoid payment (because in most cases the services are medically necessary), so not only the consumer, but the insured consumer's employer experiences a rise in health care insurance premiums, as well.
Bottom line: activist judges, seeking to drive home a point or make an example of a particular physician, combine to drive up the costs of liability insurance, which in turn drives up the costs of health care insurance.
Unfortunately, these problems with the health care system are compounded by an out-of-control pharmaceutical industry.
When a pharmaceutical manufacturer makes an important discovery and successfully introduces a new medication into the health care market, the immediate demand for that medication creates a disproportionate rise in cost. It's not enough for these manufacturers to make a profit, these manufacturers must make a killing (literally, when certain consumers are unable to afford the medication they need).
There are pills that cost upwards of $100 each in the retail market, yet cost less than $10 per pill to manufacture. When the insurance companies receive the bill for these very expensive medications, it is in their nature to attempt to find a way to avoid absorbing those costs.
Between exorbitant physician fees, exorbitant pharmaceutical fees and exorbitant health insurance fees, consumers often cannot afford the health care they need.