The notion of affordable health care is one of our country’s most debated topics. Politicians argue about whether they have the answers to provide a better system that enables all Americans to afford healthcare coverage for themselves and their families. Obviously, one of the keys to providing affordable healthcare is through insurance.
As such, all Americans can share in the risk and thus be able to face catastrophic accidents and illnesses for which one average person alone could not truly afford. Again, all Americans, healthy and unhealthy. This is the premise of health insurance. Health insurance was meant to provide health coverage for unforeseen catastrophic accidents and illnesses that would otherwise bankrupt most of us.
Now on to the topic of affordability. This is a different concept and it has a lot to do with the value we, individually, place on our well being and overall health. By this I mean that perceived affordability, the cost of healthcare, whether through insurance or self insurance, is probably very different between two individuals with exact income levels. Two individuals, who, although they make the same income, place a different economic value on their health and well being and possibly that of their families.
One individual could place a higher perceived value on their entertainment expenses rather than on purchasing health insurance or, if self-insured, paying the necessary expenses to help them remain in good health. According to our current laws this is legal in most of our states, that is, to make the decision to not purchase health insurance or not to pay for healthcare services that would help an individual remain and/or get healthy.
This scenario would seem fair and appropriate until the individual who purchased health insurance before spending on other items now has to participate along with all other Americans, in contributing financially to pay for healthcare costs incurred by uninsured individuals who have accidents and/or illnesses. These same insured Americans have to contribute for all other Americans who decided not take care of themselves and their well being.
Now, I am not saying that we as Americans do not have an affordability problem in our healthcare system or that we could not efficiently improve our healthcare delivery system, but that in addition to affordability, there are decisions that we must face to ensure that a fair system is in place for all Americans.There must be changes to our laws that create requirements for all Americans to purchase health insurance, if they can afford it!
As our federal government debates over the system that should be put into place to provide access to affordable healthcare, we have to keep in mind the responsibility we all share to prepare ourselves for illness and accidents by purchasing health insurance. As the number of uninsured and underinsured in our country decreases, the costs to the insured will decrease proportionately.