One of the most important issues being discussed this election year is health care, and more specifically, the patient protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.
I'm always amused by the pompous and kindly sounding names that bills before Congress are called, because in most cases the act doesn't accomplish what it was called and may even turn out to have the opposite effect.
But I digress.
The Republicans running for the presidential nomination debated health care last winter. Some decent arguments were put forth - without many specifics - on replacing Obamacare with a more market-based approach.
Democrats, meanwhile, run the gamut from those who want complete government control and management of medical care to those who simply favor heavily taxing those who earn to pay for the health care of those who don't earn.
What should have grown into an intelligent national debate instead digressed into name-calling and bogus charges - like when Obama supporters started saying Romney, if elected, will take away a citizens' right to birth control. The people who make this stuff up apparently have no shame, or conscience. The truth is numerous birth control methods have been widely available for many years to any American who wants to use them. Now, whether my tax dollars should be spent to pay for someone else's birth control is another matter.
That discussion started from news that Obamacare demands all employer health plans cover contraception, abortificants and sterilization even if a religiously based employer believes those things are wrong.
The one facet of the whole health care issue that's been ignored by both sides is the cost. While the general cost of living is about double what it was in the late 1970s, the cost of medical care is seven to eight times what it was then. I'm referring especially to anything involving hospitals or operations, not family doctors.
So why the staggering increase in medical costs? I've been disappointed with both liberals and conservatives for ignoring the ridiculous cost of health care, which, to me, drives everything else in this debate. We all know someone who had a minor operation and stayed maybe two days in the hospital and got a bill for $50,000 to $100,000. The cost of health care should have been their focus in 2009-10, not how to get more governmental control over our health industry.
They say you shouldn't criticize if you don't have a better idea. So here's mine. Besides the cost of health care, I think the other big aspect should be how to help people who work but still don't have medical coverage. In most cases it's because they work for a small business which simply can't afford to offer medical insurance to its employees.
Well what if hundreds, or thousands, of small businesses in each state got together to form large insurance ''groups?'' They would surely qualify for very affordable rates because with 10,000, 20,000 or 100,000 people in one insurance group, the risk to the insurance company is much lower than it would be with a group of only 10 or 20 employees.
Why hasn't this been done? I personally know people who have always worked for a living but can't go to the dentist or have an operation they need because they don't have insurance to help pay the cost. Meanwhile, they look around and see folks who don't work and are on public assistance also getting free medical care. You couldn't blame the workers without medical insurance for being angry about the non-workers who do have medical coverage, especially since it's the workers' taxes that pay for the non-workers' coverage.
Dunlap is a Weathersfield resident.