Guest Author - Julie Reeser, RN
As with any argument, anecdotal examples abound to support both sides. With our vigorous National Health Care Reform debate, it is important for nurses to know the facts so that each individual can make an informed decision. Patients and families may ask you questions about your opinion on the debate, which is all the more reason to have data to help you guide your thought process and decision making.
US citizens have a life expectancy that is last in the wealthiest nations, and are ranked 38th in the world coming in after Cuba. (1)
The WHO ranked the US 37th in overall performance in 2000 with France, Italy, Canada, Germany, and the UK ranking higher. (2)
Massachusetts passed Mandated Health Insurance Law in 2006. Their state rankings have significantly improved since that time, with them now ranking 6th in overall performance. They have had a decline in cardiac disease related deaths, infectious disease, smoking, and premature deaths despite an increase in people falling below the poverty level. (3) Compare this with Kentucky, where the per capita public health funding increased by 12%. They are ranked 37th overall, with no change in their smoking population, no improvement in their infant mortality, and an increase in their premature death rankings. (4) In Maryland, the number of uninsured has increased by 55% since 1990. (5)
This country already has single-payer systems in Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, and the Dept of Defense.
Three quarters of the medically bankrupt in 2007 had health insurance. (6)
A recent study found that 62 percent of all bankruptcies filed in 2007 were linked to medical expenses. Of those who filed for bankruptcy, nearly 80 percent had health insurance. (7)
All of the references at the bottom of this article contain more data to help you formulate opinions based on facts and research. Please take all information sources into consideration before coming to a conclusion. It is possible that our professional voices can guide the reform legislation to shape it into what we feel is needed for our country to move toward better health for all.
The American Nurses Association is in support of President Obama’s health care reform. They are encouraging nurses to participate by contacting their legislators through their website at www.RNaction.org/healthcare.
(1) ^ File:Life Expectancy 2005-2010 UN WPP 2006.PNG
(7) Himmelstein, D, E., et al, “Medical Bankruptcy in the United States, 2007: Results of a National Study, American Journal of Medicine, May 2009.