I'm probably not the first to point out that 40 years after America landed on the moon, we still don't have a workable health care system.

Nearly 50 million Americans are uninsured. This is bad for them, but also bad for those of us with coverage. The bills the uninsured rack up just raise costs for everyone else.

While many of us have coverage through employer-provided plans, without reform those costs will only continue to go up. Businesses are starting to get their health plan numbers for next year, and I've heard anecdotal numbers coming in anywhere from 24-38 percent higher than this year. Needless to say, salaries aren't going up by a similar percentage anytime soon.

And employers are shedding health plans at an alarming rate. In 2000, 64 percent of Americans were covered through employer plans. Today, it's less than 60 percent.

So whether or not you agree with President Obama's plans for reform, he is certainly right when he says the status quo is no longer an option.

His critics say he's proposing "socialized" health care, which of course is true. But... so what? Social Security and Medicare have been with us for generations, and they are socialist without a doubt. So far I haven't seen any conservatives take a stand on principle and give back their Social Security checks, or refuse Medicare and tend to their aging parents out-of-pocket.

Critics also say a public health care option would make people answer to government bureaucrats for health care. This also is true.

But you already answer to bureaucrats for your health care -- they just work for insurance companies. And unlike government workers, they get bonuses and promotions for refusing claims.

This week, in addition to our other coverage we have a couple of offerings exploring the health care issue. We have a guest column from a local physician, Dr. Ben Hubby. There's also my talk with a local couple, Scott and Holli Jackson, who offer full medical and dental insurance for the employees at their small Whitemarsh Island pizza place.

No one knows what the Obama reforms will bring. As Scott Jackson told me, "It will either completely ruin what we're trying to do here, or really help us out."

I certainly have no crystal ball either. I do know I need a break on the constantly rising costs of covering my family. But I'm also very wary of the new plan's apparently heavy burden on small business, a sector which is already strained to the breaking point.

Likely what we'll end up with is the typical American compromise: A two-tiered system where the well-off can continue to buy the coverage they want, accompanied by a socialized plan masquerading as he-man, macho capitalist health care by keeping a middleman between us and the government.

Of course keeping insurance companies in the mix will only keep costs high, as opposed to the logical alternative the rest of the developed world uses: Single-payer, all-government, nationalized health care.

But scare tactics aside, that's not going to happen. Americans would rather pay more to make sure large corporations get a cut of the action than deal directly with the government for anything. It's in our DNA.

A lot of changes are coming, but for better or worse that won't be one of them.






About The Author

Jim Morekis

Jim Morekis

A native Savannahian, Jim has been editor-in-chief of Connect Savannah for 15 years. The University of Georgia graduate is also a travel writer, authoring regional guides in the Moon handbook series... more


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