Our health care system is huge, complex, poorly understood, and broken. But that system is actually two quite different components that we, all too often, treat as one thing.
Component one, our health care delivery system, is probably the finest in the world. The training and professionalism of our health care providers is the envy of most other nations. The technology used in our clinics and hospitals is the best money can buy. And the innovation being done here in America is among the best on Earth.
Component two is the financing system we use to pay for it all, and that part is a sluggish, bureaucratic, wasteful, and expensive behemoth. It's focused on extracting ever larger profits from those who can pay, and essentially ignoring those who can't. It uses its money (our money) and an army of lobbyists to protect itself from any real competition or regulation. It has become a national embarrassment and an international laughingstock.
How can our nation, while being capable of such greatness in medicine, tolerate such ineptitude in making that life-giving expertise available to all of our citizens? This is a shortcoming that is not befitting a great democracy.
Health care coverage now haunts every major life decision. When we change jobs, start a business, go back to school, get married, have a baby, move to a different area, or stop work to raise kids, we have to carefully consider how it will affect our health care coverage. Our current system — with its high costs, high risk of financial disaster, and strong ties between employer and health care coverage — dominates our lives and puts a damper on our freedom and our economy. Health care should be available to every citizen, all the time, at an affordable cost.
The group of Coloradans behind Amendment 69, ColoradoCare, have studied the problems with our health care financing system and the available solutions. They came to the conclusion that incremental changes, such as those brought by Obamacare, will never fix the main problems. We have to remove the profit motive from this equation, and that requires a big change. That's why they crafted a health plan that resembles Medicare, right down to how we pay for it, with a tax on personal income.
Most other businesses work just fine under the profit motive, but health care finance has had its chance, and it failed. Health care is too important, too personal, and too emotional to work well under conventional market forces. Health care coverage is more like fire protection, police protection or public schools. They're all important to our well-being, and we need them to work with our best interests in mind, not a profit motive.
Our choice in November is not between ColoradoCare and some ideal solution. It's between ColoradoCare and the current system that is killing us. And while no plan is a perfect fit for everyone, ColoradoCare is a carefully thought-out plan that will do the most good for the most people.
Universal health care will be the next step forward for our democracy. Colorado can be the leader in this by showing other states how to do it successfully.
I hope my fellow Coloradans will join me in supporting ColoradoCare, Amendment 69, with a yes vote on the ballot in November. To learn more, go to ColoradoCare.org.
Dave Beckwith is a retired software engineer who lives in Westminster.