Monday, June 15, 2009

This Time, We Won't Scare

Healthcare reform has received extensive national attention, exemplified by the 2008 presidential election campaigns. Each candidate gave his/her idea for healthcare reform, and some, including Barack Obama, supported the move toward government-controlled healthcare. Government-run healthcare is already established in Canada and most countries in Europe. Skeptics of this system have pointed toward citizen’s disastrous waits and other horror stories in emergency situations. In his column, Nicholas Kristof tries to prove these cynics wrong. He tells the story of Diane Tucker, who has had experiences in both the Canadian and American healthcare systems. She had a stroke while living in Canada, went to the emergency room, required months of physical therapy and paid nothing in addition to her standard $49 a month for healthcare. In the U.S., Ms. Tucker fainted, went to the emergency room, stayed for a quarter day and paid nearly $9000 even though she had insurance.

Kristof uses mainly anecdotal evidence in his piece, focusing primarily on Ms. Tucker’s experience to support his argument. Ms. Tucker’s story is unique because she has encountered both healthcare systems with extraordinarily different results. Ms. Tucker’s remarkably positive experience occurred as a result of her treatment in the government-controlled healthcare system in Canada. Kristof’s argument only has one facet, and fails to gain the depth which one or two more positive experiences could have provided. At the end of his piece, Kristof uses surprising statistical evidence to further prove his point. While Kristof uses substantial evidence to support his argument, he fails to address counterarguments, including the possibility of horrendous waits at not only specialists, but in emergency rooms. Ms. Tucker admits that she had to initially wait two to three months to see a specialist, but neither she nor Kristof seem to see that as an issue. In the U.S., however, a wait that long is unheard of and unacceptable, considering Ms. Tucker’s condition. Until mainstream America sees the appeal in this kind of healthcare system, which could be accomplished through more articles singing the praises of government regulation, opposition and cynicism will prevent this reform from becoming reality.

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