The USA has been gripped by the debate over health care costs. Names have been exchanged and people have been compared to the Nazi regime because they wish to provide affordable health care to the general community.
Apart from the rhetoric and the political statements there are real costs that are associated with heath care. One does not have to be a socialist to recognize these costs but the methods of dealing with them are different. Without getting into the pros and cons of free health care, these are the costs that afflict people that do not have health insurance:
1. They have to transfer funds from other essential services towards health. This means that they often fall back in their mortgage payments and end up in the foreclosure situation. At the end of the day they do not get a lot of support from the government when it comes to their other financial commitments.
When the credit crunch came, it was quite clear that health costs were one of the biggest reasons for foreclosures on family homes. Many of these people had not received health care insurance and where therefore in the midst of what can only be described as a financial catastrophe. Given the question of life and death, they chose life over the mortgage. The USA government has been able to pass some form of health care reform in an effort to stem the tide of financial misery for families.
2. They end up avoiding the hospitals in order to reduce their health care costs. This means that illnesses such as prostate cancer that can be treated with early detection are left to fester until they are unmanageable. The overriding principle is that the treatment of these conditions is held back by the fear of the costs that are associated with them.
That is why countries such as the United Kingdom that have a functional health service are able to improve the outcomes for their citizens through the provision of free care at the point of delivery. Of course there are undeniable inefficiencies that come with this system but at least it acts as a safety net for the people that need it most.
3. There is a lack of health promotion within this group. The government is so busy managing the different elements of the treatment programs that they do not have the time to look at the health promotion aspects of their programs. This ends up hurting the people that are most vulnerable because they do not get a chance to manage their conditions within the systems that the government has put in place. This is a problem that the government has to step up and implement on a regular basis.
4. When they apply for health insurance there is an increase in the charges that they have to pay. This is because they will have histories of poor health outcomes. In order to minimize their risks, the insurance companies hike their charges.