The most pressing and current issue faces today’s U.S. Congress is the Health Care Reform legislation bouncing around Capitol Hill. Without a doubt health care within the U.S. is both politically charged and hits home with every household and person. But why is it such a hot button? If everyone shares the opinion that no person should suffer needlessly, why the fuss? Maybe there is some truth behind every argument for and against reforming this complex system.

For many, it comes down to paying for those that cannot. There’s no denying the fact that it will cost real money to cover 30 or 45 million uninsured persons. There’s also no denying that those who are currently paying taxes or insurance premiums will be covering those expenses. Keep in mind, the government doesn’t pay for anything with it’s own money. Every dollar the government has it has collected from an individual or business by way of taxation. That’s the only source of revenue the gov. has. The number of supporters for handling this ‘moral’ issue drop when they are asked if they are willing to pay an extra $1800 per year in taxes and premiums.

This particular issue goes a bit deeper than that. Some folks feel there’s no real problem with getting medical care, regardless of whether or not a person is insured. How can this be? Well, here in the U.S. any person needing medical care can walk right in to any hospital emergency room and they will be treated. Of course, this isn’t the preferred way to heal the sick – neither doctors nor patients like this. But, the bottom line is that uninsured persons will be treated this way. So, what’s the problem then? Well, two questions come to mind. Should the uninsured have access to doctors before they have an emergency or need an ER? Of course they should, and ultimately it is the credit report of such persons that will suffer (they will get the treatment, be given a bill, not pay the bill, and thus collection efforts are made to recover the hospital’s expenses for treatment). The second question is this, wouldn’t all our medical expenses come down if hospitals and doctors didn’t have to pass these costs on to us? Absolutely! It wouldn’t surprise me to know hospitals build in 150% (or more) pricing because only 1 out of 3 persons will pay them. Whether uninsured persons get treatment, paying customers already cover their bill indirectly.

Beyond paying for the uninsured, we have yet another serious issue to address. Costs for all health care is on the rise, and rising faster than wages. Clearly we cannot allow this to happen. Will the current system and insurance marketplace solve this issue? I feel that the trend toward HSA/High Deductible strategy is bringing some hope to the small business market. Combine that new concept with some consumer education on price control and we might make headway, but it will take some time for the market to correct itself.

Who else feels like we need some honest and transparent presentation of legislation? We all know it’s not as good as the Democrats say and not as bad as the Republicans claim. What should we believe? I want to know the year over year cost of this huge bill once it’s fully implemented and running! I also want to know who is still left out and why! Most importantly, I want to know how it will address the long term cost control. If it can’t guarantee that, there’s no reason to consider it at all. The politicizing of it is a real shame. The right is obstructive and negative, but I’m sure they have some good ideas that are being ignored by Reid and Palosi. The left is upset and saying “Party of ‘no'”, but they have forgotten that is precisely the job of the minority party in Congress. Additionally, the left should understand that ‘Bipartisan’ means input from both parties, not merely Republican votes for their legislation. What happened to the transparancy and “Everyone in the room with CNN in the corner”?

This is a great discussion! There are both moral and system issues at hand, and all of us are connected to the health care system. Personally, I don’t feel like rushing a solution is right on any level. These issues are so complex, they require lots of ideas, dialogue, and debate. Surely we can come up with an efficient solution for the moral issue of extending care to the uninsured, right? What about urgently dealing with that and beginning to lay the groundwork for debating the long term control of costs to us all? That’s my take, what’s yours?

Collin Hedegard