It made it past Congress to become law, it was validated by the Supreme Court, and it saw the light at the end of a government shutdown tunnel. But will the Affordable Care Act (ACA) —aka Obamacare— survive an internet meltdown? Probably. Is it possible that the federal government does not know how to subcontract the right tech company? Sure. But how in the world does a law with a goal to give more Americans access to health insurance end up the internet glitch story of the day?
All this media noise! All this GOTCHA! Republican attitude once they thought they could turn the online mess into the legislation’s poison pill! Excuse the dramatic tone, but this country still has a health care issue —or crisis. We still stand as the only industrialized nation where health is a privilege. We have one of the most segregated and most expensive health care systems in the world. And the only thing we hear from those who oppose ACA is that this country cannot afford to provide health care to its people.
On November 14, House Speaker John Boehner accused President Barack Obama of destroying “the best health care delivery system in the world.” Was the Speaker talking about his Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which covers hospital, surgical, physician, mental health, prescription drug, emergency care, and other health benefits?
As a fact, the US spends $2.7 trillion a year on health care, or $8,508 per person. This is between $3,000 to $5,000 more than most developed countries. Yet, the return on the investment Americans get falls short in terms of access to care and affordability.
According to the Commonwealth Fund, 37% of Americans don’t follow medical recommendations due to cost, and 23% have problems paying their medical bills. Since 75% of those surveyed by the Fund say that the health system needs a profound change, why do the health industry and so many Republicans want to stick to the status quo?
The only “good” thing about the Healthcare.gov mess is that the opposition to any kind of change is not blaming Hispanic immigrants for the increase in health care costs. So if Hispanics —who represent 32% of those with no insurance— are not to blame, where does the money go? A recent report by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) indicates that 91% of cost increases in the health system are produced by hospital charges, professional services, drugs and devices, and bureaucratic costs.
The JAMA’s report entitled “The Anatomy of Health Care in the United States” calls for “a national conversation, guided by the best data and information, aimed at explicit understanding of choices, tradeoffs, and expectations, using broader definitions of health and value.”
In the end, America needs politicians who are able to go beyond today’s Healthcare.gov glitch soundbite.