Universal health care coverage is a dream that US President Barack Obama has gone to great pains to share with the nation, to turn it into reality. Yet two years after passing reform of America’s health system into law, some two thirds of its citizens want it scrapped.
One of the objections is that it is obligatory. The 32 million Americans who do not have health insurance today are on a deadline to get private coverage within two years or they could be fined.
The sting could be 95 dollars per adult and half that for children, from 2014. But that could climb to nearly 700 dollars per grownup two years later.
Coverage by a private insurer of around 70 percent of medical bills is estimated to cost in the neighbourhood of 5,200 dollars per year. National participation to pay the rest, is based on a person’s income, meaning the lowest-paid should have 96 percent covered.
Critics of Obama-care say that the country forcing people to buy something looks like a dangerous precedent to them.
John O’Connor, for instance, who owns a garage business, said: “We should control our own destiny. The consumer should have more say. That when the government gets involved, the expectation that it is somehow going to get better, as independent businessmen – we question that.”
Reforming the system sets out to address social welfare and also to fill a hole in the national budget of some 43 billion dollars per year that goes to pay for care for uninsured people who can not pay themselves.
Doctor Basim Khan, sees patients distressed by their inability to get help, every day. He supports Obama’s reform. At a demonstration in Washington DC, he said: “Without health insurance, they put off getting care. They are not able to get care, they go to the emergency room and it costs them thousands and thousands of dollars to get care. We fundamentally, as a country, have to provide health insurance to every single person. The bill’s not perfect, but it moves us along the line, along the road towards doing that.”
If, in June, the obligation to buy health insurance is judged by the Supreme Court to be a violation of the constitution, Obama’s dream could take a nightmarish turn, just four months before the presidential election.