We can't afford not to reform health care

February 11, 2010

It is in all of our best interests to reform health care now. Rising health costs seriously impede the American Dream -- that idea that we could make it in the world based on our sweat and achievement regardless of background. The health care industry has proven that it cannot control its own costs, and we have reached a crisis point: the cost of individual health care will double in the next ten years, which means that each individual will pay around $16,000 a year for health insurance in 2019. Salaries rise on average 2 percent to 3 percent a year (in non-recession years). Household incomes cannot keep pace with these costs.

The effect of the rising costs is that employers will require their employees pay for more of their health insurance or face bankruptcy. This means the families who pay for their coverage will have less money available each month for college tuition savings, day care, mortgage payments and rent. Discretionary spending for each household will decline or disappear altogether.

Our economy will slow down significantly, probably enough for us to watch other emerging nations such as India and China replace the U.S. as a leader in every measurable economic category. For the households who cannot afford health care, serious illness will mean financial ruin.

Congressional action is the only way at this point to bring about affordable health care. The health care industry is only motivated to make money, and unless a non-profit health care option, like the so-called public option, is available, there is no incentive for the health care industry to change the way it does business.

Congress needs to pass health care reform now. We cannot afford, literally, to wait any longer.

Andrew Ranson, Baltimore

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