Not far enough? Health care for everyone isn’t a question of realism – it’s a moral necessity

This article was written by two medical students, Gabriel Edwards and David Mealiea. They have really good insight into what ails our health care system, and what we need to do to heal it.

"The patients we described above are just a few of those millions of Americans struggling with the effects of being uninsured. But additionally, we have an epidemic of inadequate coverage among Americans who are insured. Without solving the latter, we won’t adequately help the former even if we managed to insure every man, woman and child in the country. Getting everyone on board with health insurance is an initial step, but if everyone is on board a vessel which is slowly sinking, we haven’t gone far enough. In theory, paying for insurance should result in adequate, affordable health care. In reality, it doesn’t. And that brings our entire approach to financing health care into question.

We believe that health care reform has to go beyond tethering more Americans to our current, dysfunctional system. But the only way that we can evolve toward a better system is to transcend the scope of the current debate that has dominated mainstream discussion. One of the effects of the battle to pass, preserve and implement the ACA has been the way it has framed this debate as a simple dichotomy between the law’s articulated vision and the status quo.

We write this article to encourage fellow students to consider another way, one that imagines a system that can serve all Americans’ needs. We have seen the financial and human costs that have resulted from our current system. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, the suffering of those without adequate access to health care weighs on us all, economically and spiritually. Reform should strive to bring people together in the task of improving the well-being of all Americans and not, as Dr. Margaret Flowers said in an opinion piece in Al Jazeera, to lower “the bar for what is considered to be adequate health insurance coverage.”

Our national conversation has been dominated by the question of insurance, and as much as we have one of our own, shouldn’t the purpose of insurance be to create a pool as wide as possible so that those of us who are sick can benefit from the support of those of us who are well? Other industrialized nations have managed this; here in the United States, Medicare and the Veterans Administration have managed the same for subsets of our own population, and are popular and operate with minimal administrative cost when compared to private insurance companies. Why wouldn’t a single unified system, then, encompassing all Americans, most effectively accomplish this? One simple enough not to crumble under the weight of its own complexity and in the face of an opposition that would rather profit from the fragmented status quo?"

Read the full article here.