Monday, October 26, 2009

Understanding the Healthcare Crisis

There aren’t too many topics more important to retirement life currently than the healthcare debate. As I was preparing to write about this topic, it occurred to me that much of the volatility we saw last summer was the fear people had of losing what they had. While we may be saddened at the stories about people losing their homes because of medical bills or not being insured, we hold more tightly onto our own benefits, afraid of what we might have to sacrifice in order to help someone else. That tells me how important it is for the debate to continue. Wouldn’t it be tragic to have a ‘civil war’ between those who have coverage and those who don’t?

Not offering solutions to the problems, I want to make some two suggestions about understanding the situation better. Much of the passion concerning the debate has centered on the socialization of healthcare in this country. T.R. Reid, author of The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care provides excellent information about healthcare in other parts of the world. He also produced a one-hour show, which you can view
online about healthcare in six other countries. His report isn’t as much as an indictment on the system in the US, but a true understanding of the differences with other healthcare systems. He makes sure to point out the challenges that other countries face, without minimizes the problems in the US.
Last week, I listened to two one-hour segments of This American Life concerning the healthcare debate. More is Less and Someone Else’s Money provide a comprehensive summary of the healthcare system in the US. One aspect I’ve been curious is why health insurance is tied to employment. The show provides a history of medicine in the US since the beginning of the twentieth century that is interesting. The show also demonstrates the challenges we all face in changing the system and that no one entity, such as insurance is to blame. I’ll be the first to admit I have a bias in this debate. I thought both the Frontline show and the This American Life segments were effective in coming from a perspective of information and were not pushing a political agenda.

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