A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Confidence In U.S. Medical System Is Low

The American people know the medical system in their country is broken -- and they also are beginning to realize that while the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) fixed a few problems, it falls far short of actually fixing the system.

The chart above was compiled from information in a recent Gallup Poll (taken between June 1st and 4th of a nationwide sample of 1,529 adults -- with a margin of error of 3 points). The results are pretty clear. Only about 1 out of every 3 Americans has confidence in the medical system -- and no political group has more than about forty percent confidence -- with the confidence of Independents being a very low 28%, the confidence of Republicans (who brag about having the best system in the world) being 41%, and the confidence of Democrats (who continue to sing the praises of Obamacare) being 42%

Those are sad numbers, with not even half of any group having confidence in our medical system (even when the margin of error is applied). And it is not without good reason. Millions of Americans are still without insurance coverage, and probably will remain that way. Much of this is because Republican-controlled states refuse to expand Medicaid -- but even if all states expanded Medicaid, there would still be many who fall through the cracks of Obamacare.

In addition, the cost of medical care is still rising fast (far above the rate of inflation) -- just as it has been for many years. This causes this country to spend much more for medical care per capita than other developed nations spend (even though those other nations offer care equally as good, and insure all of their citizens can get adequate medical care). Some have said that when Obamacare is fully implemented, the rise is costs will slow -- but we have seen no evidence of that, and there is no cost-control mechanism in the law.

Another failing of the system is that it is still driving millions of Americans into bankruptcy every year. It is expected that about 1.7 million people will file for bankruptcy this year. While the popular notion is that bankruptcies are driven mostly by credit card debt and unpaid mortgages, the truth is that 3 out of 5 bankruptcies are because of enormous medical bills that people simply cannot afford. Even patients not filing for bankruptcy often have to forgo needed prescriptions or other care, or must delay paying other bills. Many are left with a debt it takes years to pay off.

And this is not just the problem of those without medical insurance. In fact, most of these people have insurance. They just have high deductibles or expenses that insurance won't cover. And unfortunately, this is a problem that Obamacare was not designed to remedy. Obamacare was designed to provide basic medical insurance -- not to pay for the medical costs that insurance will not cover.

It is a fact that our current health care system is still badly broken. Repealing Obamacare will not help, but will just make the problem worse. What is needed is a government-run single-payer health care system covering all American citizens (like Medicare for all). That works in the other developed nations, and there is no reason why it wouldn't work here.

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