Take Long View On Health Reform

Terry Schlemeier | Columbia Daily Tribune | December 15, 2013

Other nations have had decades to get their systems right.

Americans, especially the press, seem to be obsessive regarding the Affordable Care Act — or the sobriquet "Obamacare," as it has been dubbed. At first I was slightly disheartened by this, but, given further thought, it is only natural. For far too many years, we had no cohesive "system" for our health care, and now everyone, so it seems, is looking at a real system. You might not like it, but it is a system we have never had that all other developed countries have employed for 70 to 100-plus years. In the long run, the more people study the system, the better that system will become. I personally would have preferred a single-payer system.

Allow me to appraise some of ACA's most vociferous complaints and see whether they are valid. The first objection is that the government has no business in health care and should refrain from intervening. We have a slight problem here. The population of the United States is 308 million. The government now has health care services that serve roughly 105 million people: Veterans Affairs, the Indian Health Service run by the Department of Health and Human Services, a renal failure system, Medicaid and Medicare. Medicare alone accounts for more than 50 million people.