Health Care Debate Continues

President Obama’s eagerness for health care reform has re-sparked what has been a concern for U.S. citizens for quite a while: the future of the health care system.

The insurance program, Medicare, that mainly provides insurance coverage to U.S. citizens who are 65 years of age or older, is once again in discussion, but to many, the reasons why are not surprising.

Medicare was first signed into action in 1965 by, then-president, Lyndon B. Johnson. At the time, few were able to predict the impact that baby boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964, would have on the strength of this system.

There was a reported 78 million babies born within this time frame, most of which are currently over the age of 50 and, according to a press release from the American Hospital Association, “The over-65 population will nearly triple between 1980 and 2030.” This release also estimates that by 2030, more than 37 million will be facing more than one chronic condition.

This includes arthritis, asthma and diabetes. Ideally, six out of 10 people over the age of 65 will need medical attention for sicknesses more often.

As a result, the costs associated with medical visits will increase, directly impacting Medicare costs. This may explain the concern many people have in regards to Medicare.Medicare offers hospital insurance, health insurance and other additional benefits such as the Prescription Drug plan, which allows Medicare beneficiaries to gain prescription drug coverage.

With more than 40 million U.S. citizens already enrolled in the Medicare program, a sustainable public health care system is even more of a concern. Medicare accounts for 13 percent of the federal budget, but the focus for many is in regards to streamlining a process for Medicare’s growing cost.

According to Michael Steele, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman, this is what many politicians have been feuding about: what to do about a supposedly “bankrupting Medicare system.”

Nichole Bestman, a junior international business major, said that seeing her great-aunt go through the Medicare system before passing has given her a supportive perspective of Medicare.

“Being at an old age, seeing that you don’t work – that’s what Medicare is intended for, to help you when you retire. Because Medicare was put in place to do that, it should do just that,” Bestman said.

President Obama has been keeping major attention on his Health care Plan, hoping to ease the tension of the topic.

Thursday, Obama spoke at a health care rally at the University of Maryland where thousands of people were reported to be in attendance, most being students. It’s reported that he is scheduled to appear on at least five major TV talk shows within the next week.

Last Wednesday, President Obama presented his health care reform plan to a joint session of Congress. In his speech to the joint session of Congress and at the UMD rally, he touched on a new way of obtaining reasonable priced insurance, a marketplace where people and small businesses can compare plans.

Within the released written version of his health care plan, it was said that he would continue to build and improve the Medicare system as well. “The plan will extend new protections for Medicare beneficiaries that improve quality, coordinate care, and reduce beneficiary and program costs. These protections will extend the life of the Medicare trust fund to pay for care for future generations.”

For many, there is no question whether or not the costs pertaining to Medicare will increase. The question is what Congress and the Obama administration will do in order to ensure that the U.S. uninsured number, 46 million and the U.S. deficit, $490 billion, doesn’t increase and that those who are soon to be in the Medicare system are taken care of.