Before the economy took a nose-dive and sucked up almost all available air time in this election, one of the biggest issues the concerned voting Americans was Health Care. It's still a big issue; it's just been dwarfed by the fact that Wall Street has crashed.
I live in Massachusetts, where, since 2006, we have had state-wide universal health care. The bill was signed into law reluctantly by Mitt Romney, our ersatz governor at the time. He was quite open in his opposition to the bill, saying that health care was the responsibility of families. He felt that this move would hurt the insurance companies and drive up insurance costs.
Romney's fears were not realized to a great extent. In Mass., you now have the option to select an insurer on your own, pick from numerous plans, with a wide range of prices. There is a governmental office to help you pay for insurance if you can't afford it on your own. The numbers of the uninsured in Mass have plummeted. Emergency room wait times have dropped because they are no longer the only place for the uninsured to go for treatment for routine problems. The response has been overwhelming: people want to be insured and the universal system works to keep them insured. In the long run, this will mean more preventative care, which will improve the state's health overall and lead to a drop in health care costs.
When I lost my job last year, I couldn't afford coverage under the COBRA system. So, I called a few health insurance companies and found that Blue Cross Blue Shield offered a great plan at $200 less than COBRA. I was very happy with that plan. When my budget dropped significantly this summer, I looked at my options again. I could sign on to my husband's insurance plan, but it would actually cost more to insure me this way (his employer's "family" plan only becomes economical once children come into the picture). So I shopped around again, and found an even cheaper, comparable plan from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.
I know one woman who until recently was between jobs, and she didn't want to pay for health insurance in between. She's lucky that nothing went wrong in those six months. But I wasn't willing to take that risk, and so, when I went to the hospital earlier this week, I could focus just on the surgery and recovery, and not worry about how much the stay at MGH would cost me out of pocket.
When John McCain talks about his $5,000 health care credit, that is bunk. For me as a single person, that wouldn't cover my monthly premiums, to say nothing of my deductibles, co-pays, prescription costs, and so forth. The system today is set up to favor the health insurance companies. Here in MA, the companies get plenty of business from the previously uninsured, and a dose of healthy competetion.
I would like to see people all over the country have the same options that I do regarding health care. Universal Health Care Works.