We Americans are busy people. We work long hours, are among the most productive employees in the world, and have numerous (and growing) obligations to care for children and aging relatives. We have less and less free time and, for those precious few moments that we do have, we are supposed to get more sleep and exercise.
So I think many of my fellow citizens join me in rolling my eyes when I hear about plans for reforming healthcare that give Americans “more choices.” No thank you. I have enough on my mind.
The last thing anybody wants to do, when healthy or ill, is sort through complicated healthcare plans or try to understand insurance jargon. I know people who could benefit from a healthcare savings account, but they find the details too complex to be bothered with them.
By giving people more choices, special savings accounts, a tax credit here and there, politicians think they have the solution to covering more people and reducing costs for those lucky to have it. Maybe if we had the time to study all these options we could maximize our healthcare dollars. But who has the time? And for citizens with less education, cognitive and mental problems, and honestly just plain better things to do, extra options may translate into no healthcare coverage at all in the end.
I like that my employer chooses my health plan. Sure, it may not be the ideal plan for me, but at least I’m covered. It’s there in the background for when I need it—as healthcare should be. That’s why a national healthcare system, and perhaps a single payer system, sounds attractive to me and many others. Ah, how nice it would be to have a system where (ideally) we wouldn’t have to compare copays, hospitalization benefits, limits here, restrictions there, and all the other variables that many (most?) people don’t understand. Of course, we’d still have to fight to make sure behavioral health disorders—particularly substance use issues—are treated on par with physical health problems.
Yes, national healthcare systems have their own problems. Even with just one plan for all citizens the bureaucracy would be mind numbing. But it’s time to stop having a national debate about healthcare. Let’s cover everyone and in the same swoop abandon a system that thinks people in their golden years should be wasting time learning about Medicare Part D's doughnut holes.