October 3 2011
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an important time to reflect on the many women and their families who have suffered from this deadly disease. In fact, it was exactly a year ago that I attended a funeral for a friend's sister who died from breast cancer - it was a day that continues to preoccupy my thoughts.
So with this in mind, it's clear that women have unique health care needs. What's more, they make the majority of decisions pertaining to their families' health care. Women take more prescription drugs than men and account for 2/3 of the dollars spent on health care. That's why we might go so far as to say that women often have the most at stake in preserving high quality medical treatment centered on patient-choice.
But Obamacare will not improve the lot of women, and it will not bring us any closer to stamping out breast cancer. That's because a successful health care system is one that allows for the greatest freedom of choice. Any system in which we provide a good or service for free for everyone cannot maintain the same standards. Ultimately, Obamacare moves us in the direction of having fewer choices, worse care, and higher costs.
Women instinctively understand this, which is why in the run-up to Obamacare, the majority of women opposed a government-takeover of the health care industry. According to survey research commissioned by IWF, the majority of women claimed they would "rather have private health insurance than a government-run health insurance plan."
And this attitude persists today. Rasmussen Reports just released a new survey on health care that found "most voters still favor repeal of the national health care law." What's more, most respondents continue, "to expect the law to drive up health care costs and the federal deficit."
The more important question is how do we best help those women who need more coverage for deadly diseases like breast cancer? While the Democrats' answer was to create a highly regulated insurance industry and ban the consideration of factors like pre-existing conditions, this simply means insurance premiums will go up for everyone - making the individual mandate essential.
Instead, some rational market-based reforms - expanding the health insurance market, health-status insurance or "future health insurance" like term life insurance - could have made a world of difference.
Obamacare focused on expanding coverage, not improving care or driving down costs. Women need great care that they can afford. When government gets into the business of health care, it's going to have a significant effect on how we research, identify and treat serious diseases like breast cancer. This month we should consider the gravity of this terrible disease and the consequences of Obamacare.