Home > Important, Interesting, Politics > The Healthcare Debate Heats Up

The Healthcare Debate Heats Up

Obama has thrown himself headfirst into this fight

Obama has thrown himself headfirst into this fight

If you’ve skimmed one newspaper, stopped on a major evening news program, or gone to a news site in the past couple of weeks you have heard about the healthcare debate. You don’t know the details, you know there’s squabbling in congress, party vs. party and party vs. President, and maybe you vaguely remember that it was one of the important parts of President Obama’s campaign.

The current situation pits Obama against Republicans in congress, who he says are exploiting the problem for political gain. Republicans counter that they accept that healthcare needs fixing but take issue with Obama’s plan to do so. Obama operates within a timetable where he knows that political losses now are ok because he isn’t up for reelection until 2012, but Democrats who have midterm elections in 2010 are starting to get queasy about walking lockstep with the President and passing controversial reforms which may be unpopular in the short-term. This is hampering  Obama and his agenda.

Its no fun to even ponder it, but what if rationing healthcare is the only way?

'Rationing healthcare' is seen as a dirty term but what if it's the best way to save the most people?

An article from The New York Times Magazine is a monster one, but it brings up an interesting question in the protracted healthcare fight. Can you put a price on life? Of course, its all about how you frame things. Almost anybody would quickly answer no to the question. But if as the article says, healthcare is a resource, and all resources must be rationed, then is there an answer to the problem? Writer Peter Singer says yes. He uses the example of individuals hurt by a rationing system in England and the public outrage for their plight, while worse things happen to Americans and we don’t bat an eyelid.

When the media feature someone like Bruce Hardy or Jack Rosser, we readily relate to individuals who are harmed by a government agency’s decision to limit the cost of health care. But we tend not to hear about — and thus don’t identify with — the particular individuals who die in emergency rooms because they have no health insurance. This “identifiable victim” effect, well documented by psychologists, creates a dangerous bias in our thinking. Doyle’s figures suggest that if those Wisconsin accident victims without health insurance had received equivalent care to those with it, the additional health care would have cost about $220,000 for each life saved. Those who died were on average around 30 years old and could have been expected to live for at least another 40 years; this means that had they survived their accidents, the cost per extra year of life would have been no more than $5,500 — a small fraction of the $49,000 that NICE recommends the British National Health Service should be ready to pay to give a patient an extra year of life. If the U.S. system spent less on expensive treatments for those who, with or without the drugs, have at most a few months to live, it would be better able to save the lives of more people who, if they get the treatment they need, might live for several decades.

Just the amount of detail required to analyze one aspect of the healthcare question puts into perspective the problem that the country faces. I think we can all agree that Americans are best served if the disagreements in congress lead to viable healthcare solutions and aren’t just for political point scoring, because the issue isn’t getting any less complex, or going away any time soon.

  1. Eliza
    July 22, 2009 at 10:52 am

    This was an interesting read, and yea the issue isn’t going away. This issue has always been a controversial and sensitive one. It been in every president’s plan since I can remember. However, I feel like with time it will come down to the government to provided for each individual who is a resident. We should also think about being more European and voicing our opinions, to prevent so many ppl from dying and suffering from chronic illness because lack of health insurance or money.

  2. Cherica
    July 22, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    I think that what this issue really comes down to is the fear of socialist practices by many Americans who are a product of this highly self-driven nation. The thought of paying for “someone else’s” healthcare (although that’s kind of the idea behind many taxes) has Americans holding onto their pockets and speculating about the potential personal benefits from this proposed healthcare system. It doesn’t matter if the treatment of someone with less “identifiability” is less costly than the treatment of our grandparents who only have one more month to live…Most Americans are highly self concerned as a direct result of the capitalist nature of our nation. Americans want to know whats in it for them :-/

  3. Adrian Carrasquillo
    July 22, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    I agree with your sentiments Cherica, it’s something that politicians play to. The isolationist in some Americans and definitely the patriotism says “Yeah that’s all fine and dandy but listen, we’re Americans, we do stuff our way.” On its face there is nothing wrong with that sentiment in a lot of different facets of life and it has led to a lot of what makes this country strong but politicians use the way of thinking for their own ways. That’s what I was trying to mention. It’s a complicated issue and I won’t pretend to understand the full scope of the healthcare conundrum but I hope congress spends more time debating things that should be in or out of the healthcare bill and not trying to score points before the midterm election. It’s a problem with our political system.

  4. kii?
    July 23, 2009 at 8:34 am

    saying “why should i pay for someone else’s care?” is such an idiotic argument that it gives me the same reaction as nails on a chalkboard. How do people think INSURANCE works? I’m sure the money i’m paying right now in health insurance is being used to pay for someone else’s treatment, cause certainly I am not using it right now. A health insurance company needs a lot of people to pool their money together so that it can pay for the expensive treatments of a few, and to make a profit. This is how health insurance works, this is how your car insurance works, this is how all insurance, including social security works. And as cherica said, this is how taxes work.

    With idiotic arguments like “why should i pay for someone else?” and “a bureaucrat between you and your doctor”, it is no surprise that we cannot get stuff done.

  1. August 5, 2009 at 5:10 pm

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