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Ofuoma Odje on the Barack Obama Universal Healthcare Plan

Posted Apr 13 2009 5:30pm

Ofuoma Odje on Barack Obama’s Universal Healthcare Plan


Universal health care is a Government sponsored system for the healthcare of all its residents regardless of their medical condition or financial status. Is this feasible America? And is it the best for American Businesses?


As the push for the Barack Obama proposed Universal Healthcare heats up on Capitol Hill many argue about the merits and demerits of a Universal Healthcare system.


Experts estimate Americans without Healthcare insurance to be as many as 47 million. At the same time, Healthcare spending in the United States account for about 15% of its GDP, the highest in any industrialized nation.


Nationalized healthcare models are being used in Countries like Canada and Great Britain and residents of those countries are fully covered by the State. There are questions however, about the quality of healthcare services received under those models.


Perhaps we couldn’t make an argument as to whether the health insurance based model being used in the U.S today would have also proven successful in Canada and in the UK or other European Countries because they never adopted such a model in the first place.


Good or bad we must critique the whole idea of a nationalized healthcare system in the U.S. There are arguments ranging from the insinuation that the Government is no good at running anything and that the current U.S healthcare system is the best in the world and should not be tinkered with by the Government, to arguments that Healthcare coverage is a right to U.S citizens and residents rather than a privilege as it is today.


It would seem that a good place to start is to find out who stands to gain the most and who stands to loose the most from a nationalized healthcare system.


The increasing cost of employee Healthcare in U.S is a cause of a lot of concern in Corporate America and many Executives are speaking out about the impact on earnings and the ability of U.S businesses to remain competitive on a Global scale whilst carrying this burden. Employees have also expressed concerns about the rising cost of their share of health insurance premiums.


Major U.S Employers like Wal-Mart and General Mills have been some of the recent proponents of Universal Healthcare that have argued that the current Health Insurance Model is simply unsustainable going forward.


There is little doubt that the Barack Obama Universal Healthcare plan cannot take off without broad reforms and enactment of regulations to govern the provision of health coverage by large healthcare companies.


This raises the first question which is:- How can we include an estimated 40% of the population and reduce Healthcare costs by over 60% at the same time?


Even if there are efficiencies to be realized from restructuring the existing system, it is still somewhat baffling to imagine the credibility of this proposition without having the taxpayer on the hook for a very significant portion of the bill. One could even argue that Healthcare giants like Aetna and United Health Care could not remain profitable without huge taxpayer subsidies.


One key point to note is that companies like Aetna and United Health will effectively see the demise of their HMO business as those who currently have coverage would make changes to their plans in order to take advantage of Barack Obama Universal Healthcare plan.

 Who are the winners and losers? 

A good question though, is who actually benefits from Universal Healthcare? It is hard to be definite today, but one could argue that Generic Drug makers and Hospitals would be winners right off the wall.


Corporate America would be another big winner as the burden of Managed Employee Healthcare is lifted off its shoulders. In addition, the estimated uninsured 47 million Americans would also be winners under this scenario.


While big Pharma would take a hit because of Government pressure on drug pricing, those who do well with producing hard-to-make generic drugs should experience lower development risk.


However, Government pressure on drug pricing could hamper research and development of new drugs or result in U.S. Pharmaceutical Companies relocating abroad to countries with more favorable business environments; taking away U.S jobs in some cases.

 Companies like Aetna and United Health would not be as fortunate because their HMO business will be completely wiped out by the Barack Obama Universal Healthcare plan, and if there are no taxpayer subsidies these companies will see a decline in earnings. 

The Politics 

The Barack Obama proposed Universal Healthcare Plan would be a success if there is no money to be made in the decision making process of enacting the Universal Healthcare Plan. It is no news that big business is in bed with Lawmakers and Politicians. Therefore we must expect serious lobbying of Lawmakers and Politicians by large Healthcare institutions that stand to gain or loose from Universal Healthcare. This kind of lobbying however, if allowed, will get in the way of getting the peoples business done. The result could mean that Universal Healthcare would be held up in both houses of congress and never get enacted in Barack Obama’s first term. Even worse we could see a compromised mediocre version of Universal Healthcare passed by the House and Senate after falling victim to lobbying by big business interests.

 The Bottom-line 

Universal Healthcare may well not be feasible in America for the sheer reason that it’s a socialist concept that goes against the very tenets of Capitalism on which the American society was established.


Simply put, it is un-American to propose the use of taxpayers’ money to pay for the Healthcare of those who do not contribute to the economy.


On the flip side, one could take a long shot and make an argument that Healthcare is a constitutional right of all Americans. In the face of this kind of argument, Universal Healthcare could stand a chance.


Ofuoma Odje

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