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No to Universal Health Care

November 27th, 2008 by admin

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About two years ago when I was in Berkeley, I was sleeping in my bed when all of a sudden I woke up and felt like I was drowning; there was a constant flow of liquid going down my throat. I was forced to swallow the unknown substance. When I came to, I realized that I had a nose bleed and the flow of liquid was actually blood dripping down my throat. I got up and my pillow and bed sheets were all red. After 30 minutes, my nose bleed never coagulated and I began to panic. I called a friend and asked him if he could drive me to the local hospital. When I got to the ER at 3am in the morning, I was informed that I was “next in line” to see a doctor and that I should wait in the waiting room. When I entered the waiting room, I noticed a few homeless people sleeping but no other individuals who look like they were waiting for a doctor. I sat patiently in the room. When I was called upon, I looked at the clock and it was 8am. I walked out of the hospital in frustration; despite being “next in line”, it took me 5 hours to see a doctor at 3am in the morning on a weekday.

Although I have rarely ever been to the ER, my situation is far from anecdotal. We all have heard of many similar horror stories of long wait periods and ludicrous medical bills from the ER. America is the only wealthy, industrialized country without universal health care. Accordingly, the demand for health care is lower than what it could be. If demand for health care is relatively low, and if it takes me 5 hours to see a doctor at 3am in the morning on a weekday when I am “next in line”, then surely wait times would be excruciatingly longer if universal health care were to be implemented due to the increase in demand for doctors. As of 2007, 45.7 million Americans are uninsured. If universal health care is adopted, then the demand for doctors will increase by 45.7 million people. Since the supply of doctors will not be able to increase enough to offset the demand (have you ever heard of a medical school with a >10% acceptance rate?), there will be an even greater shortage of doctors in this country. While the current uninsured individuals benefit from having access to medical care, the 84.7% of Americans who currently are insured will be hurt by having less access.

Some might argue that the 45.7 million uninsured people are already receiving medical treatment (federal law ensures public access to emergency services regardless of ability to pay) so the demand for health care will not increase by that much more. While this is true, this argument ignores the increase in demands in other areas such as office visits, in- and out-patient services, etc.

While I am for the idea that everyone in this country should have access to health care, I do not agree that implementing universal health care right now is the solution because it will put too much strain on the health care infrastructure. It is like raising the minimum wage from $6.55/hour to $100/hour; this will devastate the economy because businesses are incapable of supporting the change so quickly. Fix the infrastructure first (which will take a very long time) then implement universal health care later.

Posted in Stubborn Opinions

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