By: Matthew O’Brien
In an age where healthcare coverage has become a nationally divisive issue, insurance is becoming more difficult than ever to acquire, and socialized medicine is looming on the horizon, Remote Area Medical (RAM) has proven that there is still hope in free market healthcare. RAM, an organization solely funded by private and corporate donors, travels all over the globe providing healthcare free of charge to those in critical need, but unable to afford expensive medical procedures due to unfortunate circumstances.
Recently RAM set up a massive clinic at the Wise Fairgrounds in Virginia. The one day clinic drew over 1,700 medical professionals and served over 2,715 patients with ranging medical complaints. Some patients, “slept overnight in their cars,” to be one of the first in line to receive medical treatment. Of the procedures offered were mammograms, x-rays, pap smears, tooth extraction, and diagnosis. RAM is proof that as a nation, we can supply quality healthcare to the poor and less fortunate through private charity rather than through forced taxation which Obama is vehemently advocating through his healthcare “reform” initiative.
If Obama’s healthcare bill is passed, the nation can expect the benefits of privatized healthcare to be overrun by bureaucratic interference and government regulation. This unrequited assault will ultimately lead to the deterioration of the current healthcare system into a socialized nightmare. To begin with, Americans can expect long waits for critical and urgent procedures, a hefty raise in taxes, and possible privacy risks due to computerized medical record keeping. Washington has repeatedly endorsed the Massachusetts model health plan regardless of the shortcomings at the state level, and should be aware of the disaster such a plan would create if implemented nationally. The inception, in 2006, of Massachusetts’s healthcare plan has led to sweeping reform throughout the state to aid the poor in affording health insurance. The initiative, which was instituted by Governor Mitt Romney, mandated everyone to have some form of health insurance whether it be employer provided or purchased privately. Individuals were ordered to purchase healthcare regardless of economic status or if they conscientiously objected. In its aftermath the healthcare plan has obviously done more harm than good as referenced by the following points:
• Although the state has reduced the number of residents without health insurance, 200,000 people remain uninsured. Moreover, the increase in the number of insured is primarily due to the state’s generous subsidies, not the celebrated individual mandate.
• Health care costs continue to rise much faster than the national average. Since 2006, total state health care spending has increased by 28 percent. Insurance premiums have increased by 8–10 percent per year, nearly double the national average.
• New regulations and bureaucracy are limiting consumer choice and adding to health care costs.
• Program costs have skyrocketed. Despite tax increases, the program faces huge deficits. The state is considering caps on insurance premiums, cuts in reimbursements to providers, and even the possibility of a “global budget” on health care spending—with its attendant rationing.
• A shortage of providers, combined with increased demand, is increasing waiting times to see a physician.
Is this what our nation wants? Absolutely not! As Americans it is our liberty to take care of those less fortunate, so why not do it through private charity which is at one’s own discretion and unregulated by government intrusion? Also, it is more expedient and cost efficient through the free market. As a nation founded on the ideals of limited government and capitalist free-market enterprise it only makes sense to keep a far less efficient, expensive, and intrusive entity such as the government from socializing healthcare. RAM is concrete proof that charity and free market healthcare are highly beneficial and available as well.