This subject is aberrant for this blog; however, this blog is about women's issues and health care in America is certainly a woman's (and man's) issue.
Universal health care would bankrupt the American economy and lead to poorer health. Few people value free things. I believe that Americans would take even less responsibility for their health choices if they had unlimited access to free health care.
My health plan is as follows:
Free Health Clinics
All hospitals should have an adjunct free clinic open to anyone and everyone. This facility should share administrative facilities with emergency rooms but otherwise be independent.
To attract talented practitioners to the free clinics, doctors and employees should have their education costs written off over the course of time they work in the clinic, say 20% per year. Additionally the clinics should have ideal work conditions including access to current technologies, sufficient staff to avoid overtime and work sharing schedules to attract and retain top talent.
Any funds the government would spend to create universal health coverage would be spent on these clinics. As a result, emergency room hospitals can go back to what they are good at, dealing in urgent care and they can make a profit doing so. Additionally hundreds of thousands of people without health insurance would have easy, immediate access to quality health care.
Health & Life Insurance
Insurance companies should implement prohibitive premiums for smokers and people diagnosed as obese. These two lifestyle conditions are preventable and can only be governed on an individual level. Each person must take responsibility for their own heath choices and how this influences their health and therefore the amount of health care they need.
Life insurance policy holders should pay lower premiums if they document that they utilize preventative medicine such as nutritional supplements, chiropractic and acupuncture for overall health, psychotherapy management for stress relief, etc.
There should be more financial incentives in the form of tax breaks for Health Savings Accounts (HSA's). Many members in government have been trying to encourage Americans to take advantage of this great program but it still is relatively unknown.
Affordable Access to Nutritional Food
Organic food and small local farms should receive subsidies that directly translate into lower food costs at the grocery store so that more Americans can afford nutritionally dense food. Highly processed food companies and companies that genetically modify food (and in my opinion, undermine the integrity of our food source) should be more regulated by the government and the chemicals used in foods should undergo more rigorous evaluation through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Additionally, organic labeling and food labeling standards should become stronger not weaker. Americans have a right to trust food labeling and not be subject to word-play and food size proportion manipulation. Otherwise, why bother having food labeling.
Affordable high quality food is the key to the health of America. The sooner we recognize and value affordable high quality food, the sooner we will avert our health crisis.
Implementing these ideas would cost money but I believe it would cost considerably less money than universal health care and less than ignoring our situation. Additionally, this program encourages each individual to take an interest in their own health and the costs associated with maintaining health. It gives Americans the opportunity to have access to quality care and quality food at an affordable price. It also gives hospitals and insurance companies the freedom to act in a way that leads to more profits which means more jobs and safer investment opportunities for those who want to invest in these companies. It also refocuses the government on regulating in areas they are good at such as consumer safety (strict, reliable food labeling governance) and funding public works projects (the free clinics) and keeps them out of industries they do not know about – administering health care.
Any person in a position of power to implement these ideas is more than welcome to take them as their own.
This health plan may seem radical and it may not be enough but I think it is an excellent start. I also feel that it is far less radical than what I hear the presidential candidates alluding to and it is more in line with American values. This plan encourages protection for those less fortunate; it encourages personal responsibility and opportunity, integrity, and honesty. These are the American values that have carried us through for all these years. I would hate to see them set aside.
I am now stepping off my soap box.
About the author: Allison Frederick is a writer and online marketing educator for other creative women. www.FaMissWomen.com offers free Web 2.0 resources. She is also the author of an upcoming novel, A Portrait of Josephine, an academic-lite thriller. Find out how to receive a free copy of the novel by visiting www.portraitofjosephine.com