Editorial: Economic crisis makes health insurance costly

By Mallory Terrence
March 26, 2009

With the current economic crisis, the high cost of health care has become a daunting expense for both individuals and companies. For more and more Americans, health insurance has become an impossible expense. When we graduate, we may find that our employers will no longer give us health benefits. For some of us, we may not even find full-time jobs in this bad economy.

As unemployment rates rise, Americans are losing their health care coverage along with their jobs.

Should the American people have to choose whether or not they can afford to fit health insurance in their budgets? When we look around the world, we find the majority of countries in the developed world has some type of universal health care, in which every single citizen receives health care as a right of citizenship.

Even if you don’t believe that the models that European countries have are the answer for our country, there has to be something better than our current system. Shouldn’t every American be able to get affordable health care? Single-payer health insurance just may be the fix to our broken health care system.

Nearly 46 million Americans were uninsured in 2007, and that number has risen significantly as the recession sets in and Americans lose jobs.

Living without health insurance is sometimes the only option, particularly when your income has drastically changed or you’re a recent graduate of college. Paying the high costs of personal health insurance, which can run as high as $1,000 a month for a family and even $500 for a single person, is beyond the means of Americans without jobs and of many new college graduates.

Avoiding high monthly fees by choosing not to get health care may sound like a good idea when you graduate from college, especially if you are healthy. However, only one emergency or accident can cause a financial crisis and leave a young adult in debt for decades to come.

By law, hospitals have to treat all emergency admissions regardless of insurance, but you will pay the price when the bills start to pile up from that one trip to the hospital. And, like it or not, medical emergency costs for uninsured people get passed onto hospitals and then on to even taxpayers and people who pay for insurance.

If you are lucky enough to land a job right out of college, the chance of finding an employer who includes benefits will be even harder with the recession in full swing. Even those who are confident their job is not in jeopardy will certainly see an increase in the percentage of their monthly income going towards their health care coverage.

President Barack Obama promised our country affordable and accessible health care for all Americans. Now we must wait.

Last week, Obama did announce his plans for a health care reform and for some, a change cannot come soon enough. Many young adults are holding their breath that insurance costs will go lower or they will be able to land a job that includes a very sought-after benefit.

Health care may not be on the top of our priority lists right now, but that’s where it should be. We are going to have to make serious decisions and need to realize the crucial need to invest money in our health care.

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Mallory Terrence

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