[Letters] Learning from the U.S. health care reform debate
The debate over health care reform in the United States is continuing with Republican leaders trying to increase the public’s fear over the government interfering in the health care system.
The most controversial issue in President Obama’s health care overhaul is the plan to create a government-funded universal health care system. While the president has been emphasizing the necessity of creating universal health care since his presidential campaign, the amount of skepticism among the Republicans, even some Democrats and the public has been on the rise.
Most of the opponents feel that the United States is not ready for a dramatic change in the health care system yet, and such a change will reduce the competitiveness in the health insurance market economy.
The health care system in the United States is very different from the one in Korea. In fact, it is different from many other countries such as Canada, France and more.
The most prominent difference is that most of the health insurance plans in the United States are run by private companies.
I believe that although Korea’s health insurance system has some problems of its own, compared to the one in the United States it is much more ideal and an overhaul of the U.S. health care system is needed.
It is true that a huge proportion of the Korean government’s money is spent on its health care program. In fact, it is becoming one of the major elements burdening our economy.
Therefore, to increase the efficiency and get lazy people who depend on the public health care program off from the government’s back there has been an attempt to privatize the health care system.
However the major problem of the privatization of the health care system is that private insurance companies’ main goal is to earn as much profit as they can. Therefore they will try hard not to offer the medical treatments they promised to offer and put limits on people who are eligible for insurance. Some companies even hire people and pay high salaries to come up with excuses for rejecting medical operations and health insurance.
As a result, 45.7 million Americans, which is 15.3 percent of the population, are uninsured and the majority of people who have health insurance are not satisfied with the service they receive. They cannot receive the health care they deserve due to financial reasons.
I believe that unless the government takes action, private insurance companies will continuously see their clients as nothing more than sources of profit. That is directly related to violating one of the basic human rights, the right to live. Therefore universal health care should be implemented not at a later time in the United States but now.
There are actually some economic benefits to health care reform. The government, people and most of the small companies can save a great amount of money once the health care system is changed.
What the President Obama needs to do to earn the public’s support and get the bill passed in the end is not only to emphasize the benefits and necessity of health care reform but also to tell specifically how citizens can benefit from it.
As health care reform is not only an issue in the U.S., Korea can learn an important lesson from the U.S. debate. There are some benefits as well as weak point in both countries’ health care systems. It is the government’s job to make needed changes for both the public welfare and the economy.
Lee Ji-Hyun, Seoul Foreign Language High School
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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