Three words that can set hearts racing these days are
“health care reform.” There are lots of reasons for this, but the most central
is that no one can say for sure what it means.
“Reform” is one of those elastic words that lends itself to
just about any interpretation assigned to it. Particularly in political
discussions, any kind of change to an existing system or process often is
called reform. But that is a miscasting of the word. Change is just change.
“Reform” implies improvement of something as a consequence of changing it.
DEBATE HEALTHCARE REFORM
So advocates of changing the health care system in the
United States call it reform in the hope of winning public support. Opponents
of change call it something else, usually derogatory, implying that the change
will worsen a situation rather than improve it. Consequently, group health insurance reform is not spared the rhetorical confusion common to heated discussions, and
public understanding suffers for it.
Another aspect of the debate in the U.S. swirls around what
level of health care is required or even necessary in a free society.
Proponents of a cradle-to-grave, all-inclusive, compulsory systems decry the
fact that tens of millions of Americans don’t have health insurance to protect
them against health hazards. Opponents of such sweeping, mandated coverage note
that many of the tens of millions of uninsured are young adults who seldom need
health care; thus, they argue that mandatory coverage is overkill and that the
uninsured statistic is a red herring.
Finally, the debate about health care reform often becomes
an argument about which type of system better serves a population: public or
private sector. Supporters of a public system, often termed a national health
care system, argue that only through government mandates can order be wrung
from chaos and a guarantee of care be established. Critics of nationalized
health insurance place more trust in competitive, private insurers to bring cost
effectiveness to the process and avoid the worst of the bureaucratic malaise
that government inevitably brings to national programs.
Any talk about health care reform is many-layered, a mix of
reasoned, emotional, and philosophical arguments. While examining health care
practices is healthy, the actual public examination process leaves something to
be desired. In fact, it can give people headaches.