National Health Care, Politics and Money

National health care is again a topic of interest in political campaigns and political discussions. Do you favor a national health care program? Do you think such a program will have a negative impact on the quality and availability of health care services? Would you be willing to pay more taxes to implement such a program?

One of the topics that is arising frequently in political debates and discussions is national health care. News reports frequently cite statistics purportedly showing that millions of Americans do not have health insurance and a recitation of the statistics is often followed by a call for some form of a national health care program.

The term "national health care" means different things to different people and there are a variety of proposals. Some of the proposals would be modeled after the federal health benefits program, other proposals would mandate health insurance for all Americans and some politicians favor a form of universal health care without much in the way of specifics as to how it would work. In fact, most proposals offered by politicians in stump speeches calling for universal health coverage are often short on specifics–either because the "devil is in the details" or a discussion of how such a system would work and who would pay for it will inevitably cause concerns among some voters who may be less likely to vote for the speaker making the proposal.

A fear of many people is whether a universal health plan would be likely to result in a dimunition of quality and availability of service for many Americans who now have health insurance and get health services which are generally quite good. In comments on the FedSmith site, some readers have cited a negative experience with "socialized medicine" through federal organizations such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the military, the Department of Defense or with national health organizations in other countries that have some form of a national health service that provides medical care.

There is little doubt that paying for a nationwide health care system would be expensive. Some politicians argue that corporations should pay more in taxes; some argue that the "rich" should pay more in taxes; some argue for a combination of higher taxes for corporations and individuals. Of course, determining who is "rich" and would be required to pay more is usually left open to interpretation. The reality is that if such a program is implemented, the money would have to come from some source and it is likely that everyone would pay for the program–either directly to the government or in a less obvious way such as paying more for existing health insurance or paying more for goods and services to companies that may have to pay higher taxes to cover the cost of such a program.

With the issue likely to be a significant issue for many in national elections next year, what is your view? Should the United States have a "national health care" program that provides health care for all Americans? How much more would you be willing to pay to institute such a program on a national level? Do you think such a program will have a negative impact on health care services?