Sunday, October 19, 2008

Healthcare, Politics, Cynicism and Hope

If you are aware of the following current statistics vis-a-vis healthcare in the United States, then you are aware that the system is broken and apparently breaking more every day.
  • Nursing shortage: 587,000 new needed by 2016
  • Physician shortage: expected, indeterminate
  • Uninsured Americans: 47 million
  • National healthcare costs: $2.1 trillion/yr
  • Employment-based healthcare: 9% drop since 1996
  • Healthcare premiums, annual growth: outpacing wage increases x 3
  • Long-term care: growing need
  • U.S. life expectancy: 77-80 years of age
  • U.S. population: 305.4 Million
  • Median Income: $46,000
And if you're of voting age, then you probably have considered both major candidates' healthcare plans (or perhaps healthcare has simply been overshadowed by the current economic crisis that is sweeping the globe).

At any rate, I have plenty of misgivings about both candidates' healthcare plans (see my previous post entitled Obama, Healthcare, and a Trio of Mythic Figures). While I hope that somehow, as a country, we will some day figure out how to actually provide quality healthcare for the majority of Americans, my inner cynic is strong these days when it comes to the machinations of government, and even the idea of a President Obama and a largely Democratic Congress does not assuage my deeply held feeling that America is simply not up to the task.

On that note, freelance writer Jen Rotman has posted an informative piece about the state of healthcare vis-a-vis the current election on the website Online Nursing Degrees, and I highly recommend giving her article a thorough read.

As a provider of healthcare, I certainly hope for the best when it comes to what will happen when a new Democratic administration gains control of the White House, but in light of the current economic turmoil, I feel little hope for the kind of healthcare reform that this country truly needs.

Perhaps in a year or two, I'll happily eat these words and smile as reports surface, detailing how a miraculous bipartisan show of intellect and economic astuteness actually created a conduit through which affordable healthcare for all was enacted.

Just imagine: every child in America fully insured; elders able to afford their medications; the employed and unemployed fully covered. It's a nice vision, and one to which I will cling by the slenderest thread of hope. But will it happen in my lifetime? Just in case, I won't hold my breath waiting to find out.

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