March 12, 2006

Healthcare Pt 5: What's the Solution?

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 7:55 pm

So far in this series of posts I have examined the biblical foundation for healthcare, the flaws in the current U.S. system, Bush’s proposals for healthcare, and some of the progressive alternatives for providing universal healthcare. All of this has been leading to the key question: as progressive Christians, what U.S. healthcare policies are we to advocate?

For us, the bottom line must be this: affordable universal healthcare. There are lots of policy proposals and points of view, both conservative and liberal, but if we are truly to care for the least of these then we must evaluate these alternatives based on whether they will achieve affordable and universal healthcare.

First, we need to recognize that the current employer-sponsored healthcare system is an historical accident that creates insecurity in employees’ health insurance coverage and hampers U.S. companies’ global competitiveness. It penalizes employers for doing the right thing for their employees, and can not provide affordable and universal healthcare. It needs to go.

President Bush’s Health Savings Accounts and high-deductible insurance program will, over time, undermine employer-sponsored insurance, and Bush would be happy for it to ultimately replace it. However, while the HSA approach is politically clever, it fails our test: it will not achieve universal healthcare. In fact, it will likely not achieve its stated goal of limiting healthcare costs, since patients spending over $4,000 a year in healthcare represent 80% of the costs, and HSAs will do nothing to contain them. So far, half of the 1 million Americans with HSAs have not put any money into their accounts, indicating that they are more interested in the low cost high-deductible insurance than in the HSA itself. This is not a path to affordable care, much less universal, care.

This leaves us with the three liberal alternatives: nationalized healthcare, single payer and multi-payer.

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