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Tuesday, January 13, 2004
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National health care has many benefits

COMMENTARY
Brian Chatman

Imagine you get in bed one night and tune into the fair, unbiased reporting of the Fox News Channel. Tonight’s topic: The radical left wing is subjecting us to the socialist idea of nationalized public health care. You begin to think that if we put a free health care system in place, the good old U.S. of A. will wake up to find Stalin and Lenin at our door to conscript us and divide up our possessions for the good of the ‘motherland.’ What might happen to our beautiful capitalist society if our government helps people by providing services that could be provided by a corporation?

But wait! Hasn’t the government provided services to minimize unemployment and provide a safety net for those who have lost their jobs? And before that, didn’t the government regulate business to preserve competition and ensure standards of quality for products and work conditions? Do we all receive a free education and clean water pumped into our homes by a government-controlled company? And as a result, don’t we have the strongest economy in the world? The government already provides services and regulations to ensure that major corporations and economic conditions do not stamp out the dreams of citizens or keep them from being innovative.

Well, at least it did. Big business dictates government policy through campaign contributions. Small businesses are being wiped out by marketing behemoths. Those with the courage to go out and try something new meet quite a few challenges, but at least they have their health.

But what if these brave souls get sick? The majority of people cannot lose their jobs or they will lose their health coverage. Forget working in a place that fulfills you. You need health insurance. Maybe you, a child, or a parent are sick. As health care costs rise, class mobility is in jeopardy. Many people have to forgo their innovative ideas or education in favor of jobs to provide insurance. If you can’t work because of your health, you aren’t supposed to lose your job. But it still happens. People are denied coverage for treatments that could save their lives, while an executive at their insurance company takes another raise with a bonus.

National health care wasn’t important when blood-letting was all the rage. Now, modern medicine has created a class schism. The rich can live healthy lives, while the masses endure their health problems. Are we so afraid of socialism in this country that instead of insuring that people are healthy, we allow their suffering because taxes might go up?

The fact is they might not. National health care could improve our economy by eliminating the costs businesses incur from providing health benefits. Small business wouldn’t lose employees to corporations on the basis of health benefits. Hospitals would not have to write off expenses for providing services that people could not pay for, so doctors and nurses would get higher pay. More money goes into the economy, creating more taxable incomes, and thus the burden of health care is spread around even more. Health care costs will increase over time, but it won’t result in as many lay-offs and cuts in pay if companies aren’t stuck with the bills. Americans would have a little more freedom to pursue their dreams without fear of poverty. The health insurance executive might be out of a job, but he will bounce back. He has opportunities arising everywhere, and most of all, he has his health.

Brian Chatman is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Fort Worth.