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Vote for universal healthcare

One of the most pressing issues this round of midterms will soon be decided in the ballot box within the next week: whether this country wants to continue on its track of paying more than the rest of the developed world for less healthcare coverage, or to establish a system that will provide access to life saving and altering care to millions of Americans. I make the argument a universal healthcare system is not just a nice luxury, but it is the right thing to do, would make the economy more productive and is necessary for the nation as a whole.

The U.S. is one of the few developed countries in the world where healthcare coverage is determined by your employer. We have federal-government provided healthcare if you are poor (and qualify), elderly, disabled, a Native American, a member of the armed forces or a veteran. Beyond these groups, the vast majority of healthcare is a private industry. Companies have to constantly look for healthcare plans for their employees that satisfy them, otherwise that employee will look for other prospects that promise better benefits or possibly go on strike. These healthcare plans promise certain amounts of coverage. They also are tailored so healthier persons usually pay less, as they are less of a risk to the insurance company, so frequent hospital visitors often have to pay more out of pocket. 

A company also has to be concerned with saving money that could be used to do research and development, new products, bonuses, new equipment, etc. If there was a larger federal system of healthcare, this would relieve the burden from the employer of constantly looking for healthcare plans and allow them to invest this capital in other areas to help the business. An outside source completely providing healthcare would also allow for healthier, more productive workers. 

I am from Alaska and my current governor, Bill Walker, is an Independent who leans conservative. He has, however, testified that expanding Medicare coverage in the state back in 2015 is the policy he is the most proud to have approved, and the results speak for themselves. Thanks to his decision to expand Medicare, more than 43,000 Alaskans got the care they needed. Governor Walker has stated he has received numerous stories of cancer being detected early, illnesses being addressed before more damaging stages occurred and Alaskans being able to get back to work or their lives thanks to Medicare. It also bought more than 800 healthcare jobs to the state. Alaska is a sparsely populated state with a little less than a million people covering a large area one third the size of the continental United States. Imagine the impact a larger expansion would have on a state like Ohio, which has over 11 million people. 

Now,  I have had a wide array of hospital visits in my life and interactions with insurance (that often finds every reason it can to not pay) and I firmly believe a universal healthcare system is not just the logical thing to do, it is the morally right thing to do. I believe that people should get the best care they can without going deeply into debt because the hospital and insurance could not agree on the price and foot the rest of the bill to the patient. Those that are ill should take their time to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually. They should not have the added stress of four, five, six figure hospital bills. 

I am against the middle class of this country being debted out of existence by arbitrary, non-value based price tags put on necessities. An umbrella national system will provide healthcare to millions of Americans and create a healthier, happier populace and make the economy more productive. For the good of the country, we must keep the pressure to expand medicare for all. Vote this election; the health of the nation depends on it.

Jackson Beckerley, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at JBeckerley21@wooster.edu.

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