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Some type of health care reform is needed, however the Supreme Court rules

March 23, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
So the U.S. Supreme Court is taking on health care reform on Monday and will decide whether it's constitutional to mandate that everyone buy health insurance.

Whether you're in favor of health reform or against it probably depends on your politics.

Maybe your feelings are influenced by whether you know someone who died too young because she didn't have health insurance and went to see a doctor too late to treat her illness effectively. I've heard some horror stories. I also know some people whose lives were saved because their employers offered a particularly generous plan that covered PAP tests or mammograms. I've also heard a story about an insurance company that refused to pay for a child cancer victim's artificial leg because it wasn't "medically necessary" and the child spent a lot of time hopping about on crutches.

Everyone knows someone who can't afford health insurance because a pre-existing condition means the rates are exorbitant. Of course there are also plenty of families who have declared bankruptcy because of medical costs or are forced to throw fundraisers and beg for handouts to help pay for medical expenses for a treatment that isn't covered.

The arguments against health reform generally amount to fears about the cost of mandating coverage – certainly a legitimate fear – and fears that health reform will mean less choice in health care and declining quality of care. Socialized medicine like the Canadian system does tend to result in longer wait times for treatments. Some Canadians end up seeking treatment across the border and paying out of pocket for surgeries they'd have to wait for months or even years for back at home. On the other hand, I don't know many Americans who don't envy the low prescription medication costs in Canada. Choice also doesn't mean a whole lot to a person who can't afford medical care at all or who goes to the emergency room for an ailment that should be seen in a doctor's office because she doesn't have health insurance.

I have always fallen on the side of saving lives and making people well. I don't believe a just country should let people die for lack of ability to pay for medical care. There are likely imperfections in the health care law as it is written, but I don't have any doubt that some type of reform is needed. There are too many things wrong with the system as it is.

Here's hoping that the Supreme Court justices rule with wisdom and with the best interests of the people in mind.


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