Pros and Cons of Health Care Reform

Tamsen Butler
Health Care Reform

There has been a lot of attention surrounding the government's proposed healthcare bills and reform efforts in recent years, yet many people still do not understand whether or not these reforms are within their best interests. Careful consideration of the pros and cons of major changes in health care is important not only for politicians, but also for all Americans who vote.

Health Care Reform Concerns

The United States has a health care system that is regarded by many as being in great need of a major overhaul. Is health care reform the answer to get Americans the health care coverage they need? Consider the opinions on both sides before deciding.

Pros of Health Care Reform

Under a free market system in which everyone is responsible for their own insurance coverage (or has employer-subsidized coverage), millions of Americans inevitably suffer from a lack of healthcare coverage. This means that medical attention - even for serious health issues - may be too cost prohibitive, and that many Americans may be left without the financial means to pay for tests, vaccines, and doctor visits.

In the long term, advocates of universal health care believe such a plan would probably reduce healthcare costs in the United States and ostensibly lead to a better quality of life. Prescription costs would either be covered by healthcare insurance plans or lowered significantly, making expensive drugs far more affordable. Insurance companies would have to work for their customers due to the increase in competition among firms, hopefully resulting in lower costs and better coverage for those who want to keep their plan.

The bottom line is that:

  • Reform may provide coverage to those Americans who otherwise lack access to quality health care.
  • In the long run, proponents foresee lower medical costs as insurance companies compete for customers.
  • People may be able to receive preventative care they may not have been able to get without coverage.

Cons of Healthcare Reform

Over the first decade after its implementation, healthcare reform would likely be very expensive. Under any universal health care system, the government role in healthcare would increase, which is likely to affect the way individuals choose their doctors.

If insurance providers fail due to a universal health care plan causing doctors to be underpaid, the result would likely be fewer choices of doctors, longer periods of time between treatments and doctor visits, and less customization of care. Others say any health care reform means the healthy will end up paying for the unhealthy or people who choose unhealthy lifestyles through taxation or raised group premiums based on the group's overall health care expenses.

The bottom line is that:

  • Costs may not be overhauled as much as advocates wish.
  • Chances are good that individuals would have less choice concerning doctors.
  • The cost of universal health care would have to be paid by taxpayers for decades to come.

A Delicate Balance

No matter what health care reform arises, chances are good that some groups will suffer. The rich can still be covered under the best health insurance plans while the fifty million uninsured may face plans they can't, or don't want, to use. On the other hand, higher taxes to grant assistance to people who cannot afford the premiums for coverage on their own may prove problematic for those in the highest income tax brackets.

Health care reform is seen by many as a solution to the problem encountered by many Americans who simply do not have access to quality health care. The economic impact coupled with the potential changes to the quality of health care available are of significant concern to those who are apprehensive about sweeping reform in health care.

The challenge for Americans is to provide a health care system that is of benefit to all, and this tall order may not be feasible in the sense that reform will impact everyone in one way or another. The trick is to figure out reform in a manner that will result in the most positive changes overall.

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Pros and Cons of Health Care Reform