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Health-care system overhaul unnecessary

BY YUAN ZHOU - GUEST OPINION | AUGUST 20, 2009 7:05 AM

The health reform proposal by President Obama has spurred a national debate over the issue. As we know, America is famous for its skyrocketing health-care costs and leaving tens of millions of Americans without health-care coverage. Therefore, President Obama and other Democrats have proposed to reform the health care system by offering government-run health insurance in order to reduce costs and provide all Americans with health insurance. But will health care cost go down by reforming the whole health-care system? In other words, if the reform didn’t pass, would health-care costs still go down?

Obama’s moral approach to this issue is full of humanity, but is it adequate and logical enough for Congress to pass a health-reform bill? Instead of looking at the inherent problems that exist in the health-care system, he simply assumes the reform can and is the only way to eliminate the high cost problem while ignoring alternative ways. Therefore, the question is not only about morality — of course we all want everyone to have affordable health-care coverage — but about how to make it affordable. This is the most crucial factor in the whole debate, and the only way to solve the problem of high cost is by looking at the nature of the problem.

First of all, the nature of the relationship between health care and human beings: Health care is indeed a basic human right, but not all people have to exercise that right. People can choose to buy insurance they desire according to their own health conditions. For example, healthy people can choose to pay for less health insurance or not to purchase it at all.

But if the reform passes, it raises a basic problem: Where does the money comes from to fund the health reform? Levying more taxes on wealthy Americans or unhealthy behavior? Just as opponents claim, that would create unfairness, and it is “un-American.” By focusing only on the uninsured population, the reform is undoubtedly a biased approach and violates fundamental precepts of human rights.

Second, the government’s step into health insurance is a big step into the market. It will not only destroy the market equilibrium but at the same time create uncertain doubts: How can the government control expenditure costs with increasing inflation in the near future? How can it keep costs low and make the insurance market still prosper? More importantly, the costs of those doubts is unknown and uncertain.

The government-run insurance plan is not necessary to lower costs. Elected officials must recognize the nature of the problem in order to create a better solution suitable for everyone instead of simply overhauling the whole health-care system. The tragedy of the reform is that it is too moral and too ideal, yet flawed.


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