Bath-time (Photo credit: Photo-Fenix.com)
On one recent evening, as I was flipping channels to get to my favorite news program, I came across a television game show called Let’s Ask America. It’s sort of the Family Feud meets Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Okay, so I like game shows and the news. The concept of the show is that using Skype, four contestants play from their homes responding to questions with two to four possible answers. The answers are based on surveying Americans from various walks of life – moms, business people, high school students, etc. On this particular evening, the question that made me stop and watch was, What did Americans says they were most jealous of when visiting European countries? I don’t recall the four choices, but the most popular answer turned out to be free health care.
It seemed ironic given the debate going on across the country about whether or not most Americans are in favor of or oppose the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Also known as Obamacare, the ACA provides an opportunity for all Americans to have health insurance including the expansion of Medicaid for many working poor families, subsidized health insurance for many low-income families, and closing many gaps in health insurance coverage. It’s not free health care, but it is America’s first step toward ensuring that all Americans can receive quality health care including preventative services.
Over the past few weeks, controversy about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act was at the heart of a government shutdown and problems with healthcare.gov, the website being used to sign up for health insurance under the ACA has been at the center of a Congressional hearing by the House Energy and Commerce committee. I just hope that we don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.
Implementation of the ACA has been have been plagued with problems including:
- An online system that is not adequately equipped to have large numbers of people access it all at once
- Multiple parts of the system , built by different vendors , that need to be better integrated to work more smoothly together
- A brief outage at healthcare.gov due to technical issues at Verizon
- Citizens who previously had health insurance coverage having their plans cancelled or premiums increased
All Americans—rich, poor, and middle class deserve to have high quality health care. According to the World Health Organization, the United States spends more per capita on health care than any other nation in the world. Still we lag behind on many health indicators as well as the efficiency of health care delivery.
The issues that the ACA has had with its implementation are most tragic for people who don’t currently have, but want to have health care coverage. None of the implementation issues are insurmountable. We are all frustrated at the daily news of implementation problems. However, we can’t throw out the health care baby just because we are less than impressed with the technology and other issues in the bath water. It is time that we stop focusing on the problems and begin focusing on the solutions that will lead to every American having high quality, affordable health care courage that is there when we need it. That is what will lead to healthier and stronger, citizens, communities, and country.