Does Health Care Measure Up?
The United States government has been considering health care reform since the 1930's. At that time, Franklin D. Roosevelt didn't press his ideas on Congress because he did not want to risk his other New Deal proposals. But other presidents, including Harry Truman in 1949 and Richard Nixon in 1971, have tried to introduce some type of health care reform, enjoying varying measures of success.
Why do we still need reform? Currently, the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have some type of national health care policy. According to a 2003 L.A. Times poll, "70% [of the respondents] consider the current [health care] system unsound," and the President has made health care one of his main policy issues. Many states, such as Florida and Oregon, have initiated their own plans to increase health care availability to their residents.
Yet, whether we all agree on the type of reform needed, or if it is needed at all, we do need to address some issues critical to many inner-city and rural residents. Do we have enough health care providers in rural areas? Is enough emergency care available in inner cities? Is affordable insurance coverage available to offset the cost of health care?
Janice Castro says in The American Way of Health that "there are twice as many physicians now as there were about 20 years ago," but today only about 30% of those doctors are General Practitioners. With the number of General Practitioners decreasing, the competition among cities and towns to attract these doctors becomes quite intense. Some hospitals hire recruiting firms to find doctors for them, while others pay between $1500 and $2250 for recruiting booths at annual meetings of the American Academy of Family Physicians. The poorer and more rural areas do not stand up well to the competition because they usually have little to offer in the way of housing, culture, and entertainment. According to the National Rural Health Association, rural America needs 11,000 more doctors.
Many hospitals in rural towns depend on these same General Practitioners for their primary source of regular patients. One or two new General Practitioners can often mean the difference between staying open or operating in the red for some small hospitals. In a similar way, as many inner-city regions lose the services of General Practitioners, the sick in these areas turn to hospital emergency rooms for basic...