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Skipping out on America’s future

Remember what it feels like to gorge yourself on a meal with friends only to find when the bill arrives, your tablemates have conveniently slipped off into the washroom? Well hopefully not, (if so, visit myfriendsareusingme.com) but young Americans should prepare themselves to feel such pain.

Despite all the excitement over the prospects of impending health care reform, the young still have reason for worry. While lawmakers from the Right and Left vigorously seek to caulk the wagon and float across the ideological divide on health care, little is being said about the sustainability of reform and its long-term implications for the future.

The truth is that younger generations are already getting a bum deal. The health care crisis disproportionately affects young people in this country, as young Americans account for the largest chunk of the uninsured with nearly 30 percent of 18-24-year-olds and almost 27 percent of 24-35-year-olds having no health insurance.

For many young Americans, they would find in an auto accident that their cars are better protected than they are. The fact that health care is least accessible to this demographic is a tremendous health and financial risk, but yet is only part of the dilemma health care poses for their future.The rising cost of health care in this country has had a tremendous impact upon Medicare and Medicaid and in turn, our future. As of 2008, this country already faces $34.1 trillion (with a "t") in unfunded financial obligations for the Medicare program alone, amounting to a liability of nearly a half a million dollars for the average family of four. Policymakers and lawmakers alike have largely ignored the severity of such a financial burden on future generations, but worse yet, have further disregarded this tough reality in the current debates over health care reform. Instead in the name of political victory, Washington seems poised to simply plug the dike by pouring more money into a broken system, all while leaving the future to pick up the tab.Such a solution is not only irresponsible, but unethical. Obscuring the severe shortcomings of today's health care system at the expense of tomorrow simply delays the difficult, albeit necessary task of profound and comprehensive health care reform.

While making health care more affordable for individuals is essential, it must also be the aim of our leaders to make the system as a whole more affordable, efficient and thus sustainable. In the upcoming drive for health care reform, lawmakers must be compelled to resist the temptation of the quick fix. They must understand that by ignoring health care's rising cost as the principal systemic issue, they are mortgaging the benefits and assets of young Americans. Failure to do so, will in time place the social contract between generations embodied by the Medicare program at risk and threaten to divide this country not by our politics – but by the opportunities we are afforded.

Landon Gibbs and Brent Parton, Co-Founders' SHOUTAmerica, a non-profit organization based in Nashville, Tennessee committed to cultivating sustainable solutions and policies that address today's health care issues with a conscience for tomorrow

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JohnkwsMatt VDave BirdKatrina Recent comment authors
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CH
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CH

Below is a link to a great study by Kaiser on Uninsured Young Adults. I think this will help with the debate above. http://www.kff.org/uninsured/7785.cfm

Nate
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Nate

“an industry that is making huge profits in the healthcare space” What are those profits? By what measure are they huge? How do they compare to other industries? How do they compare to other segments of the healthcare system? “which holds their data to be proprietary and chooses to not be transparent in any way, shape or form.” You just said the data I linked to was educational. Where do you think that data came from? What efforts have you made to view or collect this supposedly proprietary data and where rebuffed? On what basis do you make this claim… Read more »

Dave Bird
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Dave Bird

Nate provides compelling evidence that perhaps there is virtue in the system as is, in terms of incentives for people like yourself to use your talent to make health insurance more affordable. However, one will be hard pressed to find many individuals out there in the world of health care policy who disagree with the fact that the system as is cannot be sustained for a multitude of reasons, from misaligned incentives to its failure to support public health. Examining health care with any intellectual rigor reveals the lack of any true “system” of health care finance and delivery, but… Read more »

Katrina
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I am disheartened that you cannot speak without being angry, insulting, and rude. My original comments were intended to show my disagreement with your post and manner in which you presented your argument. What I meant by my second comment regarding “Selling Insurance” is that you are working in an industry that is making huge profits in the healthcare space, while costs continue to rise, and premiums continue to push people from obtaining coverage. This was not a personal bash against you, but against a sector of the industry (that you work in) which holds their data to be proprietary… Read more »

Nate
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Nate

“Here’s your problem… you are SELLING INSURANCE!” And that is intellectual debate from our future folks. Disprove everything they claim, show why their argument is fundamentally flawed and they retort with an attack on your profession. This is clear enough proof we are getting no return on investment as tax payors for subsidizing college. We need to discontinue pell grants and college loans and spend the money where it will get some results. Katrina to further your education, you obviously need it, allow me to teach you the lesson of not judging a book by its cover. We have established… Read more »

Katrina
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Dear Nate:
Here’s your problem… you are SELLING INSURANCE!
K

John
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John

Go get em Nate!

Nate
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Nate

Katrina, post like yours are what really drives me nuts about the lack of debate in regards to healthcare. How do people like you have so little concern for speaking out when you have no idea what you are talking about. It’s not that I disagree with your ideas, its you can’t even get basic facts right. You waste so much time with your concern for the situation but can’t take 5 minutes to learn what you’re concerned about. “(when an employer actually offers good benefits)” well over half of all employers offer benefits and something like over 80% of… Read more »

kws
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kws

I could not agree more. Thank you for stating the necessary.

Matt V
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Matt V

It is apparent to me that in creating sustainable solutions to the future of healthcare, we must FIRST take a step back and understand the inherent humanistic value of Healthcare, its role in American capitalism, and reevaluate the motives and methods that drive the financial framework behind our most “intimate” business. In other words, I propose a “Healthcare Philosophy” sector to ensure that the core humanistic values in healthcare are preserved first, then find ways to finance the system according to all of Healthcare’s potential. As strange as it may seem, disease serves an extremely important role in our existence,… Read more »

Dave Bird
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Dave Bird

Deron makes a good point. While on some levels health care could create conflict amongst generations, in reality this is an issue where everyone is responsible for change. Health care is a very personal and often emotionally charged issue and confronting many of its difficulties will require an examination of the ethics we employ and how we define “quality health care.” Americans are consumed by the idea that modern medicine can fix anything, but if we want to build a “sustainable system” we must first concede that the system cannot be everything to everyone. We must evaluate how health care… Read more »

Katrina
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I would like to direct my response to Nate: There is an ongoing debate in health care between access and choice, and which one is more important. I would argue any day that access is what matters. Health care is not accessible to my generation. Why? Because, as the economy continues to worsen, and new jobs becomes less and less available, health insurance benefits (when an employer actually offers good benefits) are becoming a luxury. I know that the number of my peers who have had to secure a new job, after working for a large employer who made massive… Read more »

Deron S.
Guest

Yet another conversation where everyone complains about the high costs, but no one wants to introduce the elephant in the room…we are a increasingly unhealthy population. If you want to do something for the younger generations, beef up the health class requirements in the junior high and high school curriculums. Show them how leading unhealthy lifestyles will cause them to wind up like grandpa, the avgerage Medicare beneficiary who takes 12 different pills each day, sees 7 different specialists each year, and has 3 chronic conditions. Everyone participating in this discussion should be chipping in to the healthcare reform initiative.… Read more »

rbar
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rbar

I have trained and worked both in Europe (Germany and a little bit of France) and in the US, and I can only emphasize that in the US, there is an attitude of gold plated health care (the practice variation noted by the Dartmouth people is only the tip of the ice berg). A lot is done (or prescribed, respectively), at a high price/reimbursement (except medicaid), usually with the latest technology … but all in all with little bang for the buck. When talking to both doctors and people outside of the HC system, I note that there is little… Read more »

Dr. John
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Dr. John

I agree that we have to slow the growth in health care costs to make the system sustainable in the long run. However, I think it is imperative that we provide universal access immediately for two reasons. One reason is the moral crisis as mentioned previously. Nearly 1 in 6 Americans do not have regular access to health care. The second reason that we need universal access is to end the severity of cost shifting. At present, providers are forced to cost shift because of bad debt. By eliminating bad debt, providers can focus on delivering higher quality care, and… Read more »