U.S. health care — enough to make you sick

President Barack Obama was inaugurated for his second term Monday and is faced with new issues.

During his second inaugural address, the president spoke of the need for Americans to “make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.”

While we definitely need to work on depleteing our deficit, the health care pitch was what stood out the most.

During the speech Obama said, “We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”

Mr. President, we couldn’t agree more.

A September poll conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau indicated 48.6 million people were uninsured in 2012.

In a nation that, according to the World Health Organization, spends more per capita on health care than any other country, it doesn’t make sense that so many go uninsured.

In the past few weeks, the halls of Oakland University have been filled with people hacking, coughing and sneezing. Many students have had to make the choice whether to attend class while sick, or take the risk of missing a lecture so early in the semester.

Many with jobs have a similar choice to make, whether to work sick or risk their own employment.

Calling in sick can often hit the uninsured pocketbook three times — missing a day of work, spending money on the doctor visit and spending more on medicine.

Many might claim the United States has the best health care in the world, and that people come from other countries to be seen by American doctors. But it’s only the best in the world for those who can afford it, foreign or domestic.

During Governor Mitt Romney’s run for the presidency, he said uninsured Americans could easily get health care by visiting emergency rooms.

However, according to a survey by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the average ER visit cost $1,318 in 2009. With many living at or below the poverty line, that isn’t a small expenditure.

Of course, showing up to work or school is easier if people don’t get sick in the first place.

If this country is to catch up to other civilized nations, we need to offer preventative health care.

For example, at Oakland University, some professors are placed on an outcome based health care plan, meaning their coverage gets better depending on their lifestyles.

While we’re not endorsing the program, it is another possible option.

The World Health Organization placed the U.S. in 37th place for national health systems, yet took first place in expenditure per capita.

The top 10 countries on the list all have either universal or publicly-funded health care and all spend far less on health care, because everyone chips in.

Most importantly, all those countries see not just the importance of treating the sick but in preventing illness in the first place.

The President was correct when he said the U.S. has some catching up to do in many areas if we want to remain competitive.

The best way to make sure we get there is to make sure everyone’s healthy enough to do their part.


The staff editorial is written weekly by members of The Oakland Post’s editorial  board. 

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