A Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll indicates that on a whole, the American public “believes that reducing the percentage of uninsured Americans is the most important healthcare issue for the government to address. ” (Cummings, 2006, p. 1) This points to the biggest problem that the healthcare industry must fight, which is the economic prejudice that seems to control pricing and access to decent medical attention.
Unfair insurance practices like the high cost of premiums, the high cost of buying a share in an employer’s company coverage program and the routine unwillingness of insurance companies to cover the costs for many necessary medical treatments have all led to a situation where more than 40 million American people are uninsured. The problem of a lack of insurance for many is related to the problem of the cost of healthcare.
For insurance, medical procedures and prescription drugs, healthcare has been increasing in its cost for the consumer at a faster rate than any other industry. One of the main reasons is the above-mentioned issue of insurance costs, which because of an unwillingness of the government to enforce regulation on monopolistic corporate practices, is a cause for the negative spiral of a rising expensiveness. “Each percentage-point rise in health-insurance costs increases the number of uninsured by 300,000 people. ” (Kessler, 2004, p. 1)
That, some economic experts say, has created a negative spiral where the absence of more payers entering into the insurance market is making the cost even higher for those who remain. The consequence is that middle class Americans often struggle to deal with medical costs, especially when unexpected medical emergencies occur, even if they do have full insurance benefits. This is to indicate that there is a consequence not just for the poor, but for the healthcare system and all American who are covered, based on the economic implications of pricing out so many citizens.
Even in contexts where members of the middle and working classes believe themselves to be insulated from this crisis so long as they remain employed, employers facing an over-valued market has sought all many of ways to cut costs. Naturally, these are ways which have come at the expense of employees. In the 1980s, as the insurance market approached its current state of out-and-out private dominance over America’s healthcare policy, “in companies without unions, employees were force to pay higher deductibles and co-payments and share the cost of premiums.
Some employers resorted to ‘churning,’ switching policies just as the waiting period for employees with large medical expenses expired. They also reduced benefits for expensive diseases such as cancer and AIDS or eliminate coverage for these conditions altogether. ” (Quadagno, 145) Even for those who have been gainfully employed in white collar jobs, the failure of the United States to bring rising costs into check is resulting in a condition where such employees are increasingly carrying the burden.