In Sarah’s first online post since quitting her job as Governor of Alaska, she writes that Obama’s Healthcare Plan is “Evil” because of its support for euthanasia. Obama later explains, “Nobody is going to be forcing you to make a set of decisions on end-of-life care based on some bureaucratic law in Washington.” What’s interesting to note is how this story has garnered so much more attention rather than the costs and implementation of Obama’s healthcare plan. I have admittedly not paid attention to this debate, but feel I should. In this post, I attempt to provide a brief understanding of this controversial topic, along with various viewpoints.
THE SKINNY ON UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE:
WHAT IS IT?
* Universal health care is also known as single-payer system, united health care system, or national health care. Universal health care is similar to the current US Medicaid program for low-income folks, and would apply to all citizens of the US regardless of the ability to pay.
WHY HAVE IT?
* Supposedly 50 million or so Americans, or almost 20% of the country’s population is without healthcare. People will argue that it should be the right of every American to have coverage, just like the Canadians and the British.
* With a single Universal Healthcare system, Americans will save money because the new system will slash billions of dollars in administrative costs. Furthermore, 50 million people will have coverage.
* To provide 50 million more people with free healthcare, someone has got to pay for it. Some don’t believe big government will be able to run the new system as efficiently as the private sector.
With this quick understanding, here are various opinions from real people I’d like to share with you.
Young Doctor: “Sam, it’s been 10 years after I’ve graduated from college, and I’m still studying. You know that I originally wanted to be a Pediatrician, but after all the time, money, and studying I’ve spent, I now want to be a Radiologist (Radiologists can earn between $500-1million/yr compared to $150-250,000 for Pediatricians). Besides, look what big government has done to doctors over the years. They’ve made it easier for patients to sue us for malpractice, resulting in our insurance premiums going sky high. Meanwhile, our wages have been compressed due to the proliferation of HMOs. Don’t people know that we doctors just want to help people? Sometimes we make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean we should go bankrupt for it! If more people knew how much hard work and discipline it takes to become a doctor, I think they’d have more appreciation. I’m against the Universal Healthcare system. It’ll simply dilute the quality of healthcare, suppress doctor’s wages further, and deter us from specializing, when America is in dire need for more specialists!”
Elder: “I’m 63 years old Sam, and haven’t had a steady paying job in 5 years. My back hurts constantly, so it’s tough for me to even take side jobs moving and lifting things. Even my fingers aren’t as nimble as they used to be, making it difficult to work as an electrician. I served several years in the military in my 20’s, and the government promised me when I enlisted I would never have to worry, and that I would always be taken care of. I’m under insured now, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it until 65 when Medicare kicks in. One slip or fall, and I have no way of paying. I’m already $15,000 in debt from my credit card to pay for my home repairs. I think I have a cavity, but I just can’t afford to see a dentist, so I just bear it. I feel horrible asking my only son for money, but I do anyway, otherwise how am I going to survive? If the new administration can establish the Universal Healthcare system sooner, rather than later, it would help me a great deal. I wouldn’t have to stress about getting injured anymore, and I can just work to survive.
Tech Millionaire: “Sam, I’ve taken a ton of risks in my life, going bankrupt twice before, until I finally hit it big with a particular company that got bought out. I know what it takes to struggle and work hard, and I deserve the money that I’ve made. I am paying a lot for the healthcare insurance now, but that’s my choice. I have the best network of doctors in the world, and I’m willing to pay a premium. Is America not all about freedom of choice? If we implement Obama’s plan, I wonder if my doctor’s will be forced to take on a lot more patients? If that’s the case, I feel I will be crowded out. Will Obama’s administration also try and put caps on their incomes as well? If so, I’m afraid they won’t want to work as hard, exacerbating the situation for existing clients even further. The idea to tax me another 1.5-5% on the money I make is absolutely ridiculous. I already pay 36% federal + 9.6% state + another 5% for social security/Medicare for a total of around 46%. Don’t I pay enough taxes already? I’m against Socialism, which is where we are heading.”
Single Mother: “When I was in college, I gave birth to my beautiful son. The father and I tried to make it work for 3 years after graduation, but things didn’t work out as planned. He got arrested for theft and he cheated on me, so I left. I went back home to live with my mother for a couple years while waitressing at the local diner. It was really scary because we had no healthcare. I’ve been on my own two feet for the past 5 years working as a paralegal. We live in a quaint little one bedroom apartment, and I’m proud to have made it through. I don’t make much money, and for the first two years on our own, it was quite difficult because daycare alone took up about 40% of my annual salary! My son is now in public school, but I still need help in the afternoon before I get home at 5:30pm. Times are tough, and I’m thankful to have a job. I’m in full support of Obama’s healthcare plan because if something happened to my son when we didn’t have healthcare, we wouldn’t have the means of our own to pay. In the world’s wealthiest country, all Americans have a right to healthcare coverage, regardless of their financial situation. I pay my fair share of taxes, and would be willing to pay a little more if it can help others.”
You may have had a singular viewpoint at the start of this article, and I hope it has changed. Nothing is ever what it seems. If you are a well-to-do person in the highest marginal tax bracket, I guarantee you will feel differently if you befriend those who are paying the lowest marginal tax rate and have an underemployed love one. Conversely, if you are someone who thinks it’s always OK to tax the wealthy more to pay for the rest because they are “rich” anyway, try and understand where they’re coming from, and the absolute dollar amount they are already paying in taxes.
Readers, please freely share your views on this controversial topic. The more angles the better. Some of our parents and elder relatives may be underinsured. If taxes are going up (1.5%-5% for incomes $250,000-$1million+), hopefully they will be the immediate beneficiaries, along with the 50 million other uninsured when this bill gets passed. Passage seems inevitable under this administration…. or is it? I wonder if the early retirees will also be fully covered? If so, bring it on, preferably if all the billionaires can pay for it!
Something to think about. Medicare costs the government almost $400 billion a year and supports somewhere around 38-40 million people. Medicaid is nearing $300 billion and covers 53 million people How will Obama’s Universal Healthcare cost only $60billion/yr for the 50 million uninsured?
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Updated for 2015 and beyond
Sam – Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”