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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Access to Health Care

One other problem confronting the issue of Universal health care is Access to health care. Any time you reduce the cost to the consumer (free under universal health care), utilization rises. Right now our emergency rooms are overworked because a significant number of people use the emergency room as their primary care physician. I have spoken with many Hispanic immigrants who have told me that the reason that they do not have health insurance is that if they get sick they will just go to the emergency room. Everyone knows that they have to treat them whether or not they have insurance.

As soon as everyone is guaranteed health care on demand, demand for that health care will overwhelm the services that are available now. In countries where the government provides the health care, the main complaint is the waiting lines for services. You have to increase the amount of doctors, the amount of hospitals, emergency rooms and clinics to deal with the exact same number of people under a universal system.

Before the government even looks at ways to provide health care for all through some sort of government mandated insurance program, they are going to have to address the issue of access. Guaranteeing health care is one thing. Providing QUALITY health care is something quite different. I would hate for the government to treat the health care system the way they did Iraq with poor planning for the long haul which would deny health care to those who could otherwise afford it and need it.

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