Americans used to believe that AIDS was the most important health woe twenty years ago. That has changed as more and more are uninsured. The largest worry facing the overall American public is now health coverage security.
While health care is not a ‘life saver’ the need to have a doctor can delay death and lower the insistances of disability.
The Washington Post quotes Alan Sager, professor of health policy at Boston University.
“Health care has never saved a single life. That’s more of a theological question. What health care is supposed to do is delay death, overcome disability and pain, and provide medical security – confidence you will get competent and timely care when you need it without having to worry about the bill when you’re sick or losing your insurance. Ever,” Mr. Sager said.
“We spend enough already to ensure medical security. But half is simply wasted. We should identify and squeeze out the fat, capture it and recycle it as clinical bone and muscle,” he added.
That need is felt by 55 percent asked in a recent Gallup Poll about what the biggest health woe in the United States is. Compared to a mere 2 percent who are concerned about AIDS, diabetes and heart disease the poll shows a true change in the American people’s ideals of health care from 20 years ago. At that time AIDS topped the list and the cost of care was at a low 1 percent of concern.
As the nation faces economic woes perhaps the overwhelming cost of health care has been exacerbated. There are currently 47 percent who are without insurance in the United States hoping that a major illness does not strike them.
“Americans’ perceptions of the most urgent health problem facing the United States focus on systemic factors such as access to health care and the cost of it rather than specific medical conditions,” said Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones.
The fears are very reasonable. Right now the United States has some $60 million of unpaid medical bills floating around. The nation is spending enough to ensure medical security according to Sager but half of that money is being wasted.
That waste is reflected in the total health care expenditures that have already been listed for 2007. $2.3 trillion went out in medical expenses last year, that’s 16 percent of the gross domestic product according to the National Coalition on Health Care.
Shouldn’t everyone in the United States have the right to not fear getting sick because of the cost?