Other Voices: Our own health care solution | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: Our own health care solution

There is a state solution to the deeply flawed health care reform bill on the national level.

California Senate Bill 810 (SB810) will provide health care for all Californians. This is the time for Californians to set a good example for our nation by putting in place a Single-Payer Health Care System that the rest of the nation can model.

Most Americans are acutely aware of how much they pay for their own care. Those without health insurance, or who are under-insured, face sky-high doctor and hospital bills, and ever-more aggressive collection tactics, when they receive care at all. This results in lost homes, bankruptcies, and loss of retirement savings for a large numbers of families. A member of our family, without insurance, lost his home to these tactics. This never happens in countries like Canada or France, where they have Universal Health Care.

By any measure, the United States spends an enormous amount of money on health care.

Here are a few of those measures. Last year, U.S. health care spending exceeded 16 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), without covering all of its citizens; 45 million go without health insurance. To put U.S. spending into perspective: in 2004, the U.S. spent 15.3 percent of GDP on health care, while Canada spent 9.9 percent, France 10.7 percent, Germany 10.9 percent, Sweden 9 percent, and the United Kingdom 8.7 percent, all of which have Universal Health Care.

Today there is a much greater gap in costs with the increased co-pays, deductibles and outright denial of coverage. The outrageous increase in premiums by Anthem and others only adds to this gap. A friend recently had her premiums increased by 28 percent for no other reason than that the insurance company could do it. Others are having premiums increased as much as 39 percent. Those who are fortunate enough to have insurance experience steep annual premium hikes along with rising deductibles and co-pays, and, all too often, a well-founded fear of losing their coverage should they lose a job or have a serious illness in the family.

The other industrialized countries in the world have made a moral decision to provide Universal Health Care for their citizens. We still allow corporations to manipulate the health care system, to the benefit of their shareholders and the outrageous salaries and bonuses for their executives, at the expense of our citizens’ health care.

We have a solution in California in the form of SB810 now pending in the state Legislature. The purpose of this bill – supported by the Lewin Group’s independent research – is to provide health care for every Californian and equally important, to control rising health care costs over the long run.

To learn more about this legislation and how you can help, visit the Web site CaliforniaOneCare.org.

Lowell Banks lives in Grass Valley.

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