Last year, when the controversial director Michael Moore released his film Sicko, a documentary about healthcare in America, he received a rare response: bipartisan agreement. Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the healthcare debate observed that the American healthcare system had grown dysfunctional.
This is a system, after all, where even people with insurance routinely get denied access to treatment; where the cost of insuring a family has doubled since 2001; where purchasing comprehensive insurance without sharing the burden with an employer is a luxury available only to the wealthy; where U.S. healthcare costs are a greater portion of GDP than other advanced nations, while the majority of Americans receive worse treatment. In other words, while Republicans and Democrats might disagree on how to fix the healthcare system, everyone is sick to their stomachs about how the current system operates.
To me, at least, healthcare reform ranks as high as Iraq and Afghanistan as important issues this election year. Too bad there has been no real discussion about it since the Democratic primary. To be fair, the presidential candidates aren't talking about issues at all anymore. About.com’s Guides have written great summaries of the candidates’ healthcare proposals. To quickly summarize, Obama has promised to create a government subsidized insurance plan that will compete with private insurance. He has also promised greater oversight of the insurance companies in order to protect the insured. Obama’s plan isn’t a universal healthcare system, but it is clearly designed to move the country is that direction.
McCain has also stressed that healthcare requires total reform, but he hopes to control rising costs by creating more competition throughout the healthcare system. He also wants to create greater transparency in order to allow patients to have better control over their care.
So where do you all stand on healthcare reform? Have you personally felt the impact of our faltering healthcare system? Is this an issue that you prioritize or do you have other issues you want dealt with first? Do you have a preference for either McCain or Obama’s plan?
Readers: If you have stories about working through the labyrinth of our healthcare system, let us know! If you have a better idea about how to fix healthcare than our presidential candidates, really let us know!