Health care debate plagued by skewed words

By By Whitney Fitts

By Whitney Fitts

The death gap, as Carston Oliver calls it, is a set of stairs followed by a flower box, a 20-foot gap and a railing to land on another set of stairs. Oliver jumps this on his bike.

“The risks I take are calculated, but there is big potential for something to go bad,” said Oliver, a junior in engineering. “The risk is there and if something did go wrong, I would definitely need health care.”

Lucky for Oliver, he’s not one of the 5 million college students without health care, a number provided by Lookout Mountain Group, a nonpartisan grass-roots coalition of college health professionals. But 5 million still leaves out plenty of students.

As traditional college students, we’re young and feel as if we’re immortal, which, for better or for worse, prompts us to take on risks that other ages responsibly shy away from. Health care is important for everyone, but at our age, we tend to be a high risk group and need to be insured. This makes the debate about health care reform imperative for us.

The debate has been an emotional one. The short-term changes we make will be with us for a long time. But as I watch the swirl of rage and outbursts we’re tolerating as “discussions,” I begin to think that we’ve started spinning things in less-than-truthful ways, and we’re probably not being as honest with ourselves as we should be about these new options for reform. I’ve noticed a few instances where the skewing of words and ideas by opposers have been especially troublesome.

Death panels: This one sounds scary, but no worries, no one’s out to kill grandma, grandpa8212;or you, for that matter. With all of our medical advances, we are able to keep a heart pumping indefinitely, but just because you can doesn’t always mean you should. Quality of life is different than quantity of life. If you want to live out every breath, even if it’s in an unconscious vegetable state kept going only by machines, that’s just fine and it’s your right to do so. For those who would like not to be resuscitated if things head that way, on a government plan it would be nice to have the option to consult with a doctor about that option beforehand, just like you can now with private plans. That is the only truth to this phantom health care problem, which obviously has been blown out of proportion and retitled to scare the masses.

Government option: In a country where we place value on free market and competition, we shouldn’t be scared of a little bit of it. A government option isn’t going to put the health care industry out of business; it’s only going to add a bit of competition to an industry that’s gotten a little out of shape. Private insurance will still be there for everyone who wants it; those who can’t afford it aren’t buying it anyway.

One-payer system: If you like Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, then you like the one-payer system. It’s not communism, it’s just a good plan.

Reform is going to drop the bottom out of our already plummeting budget deficit: According to a study on Medicaid and the Uninsured conducted by the Kaiser Commission, $56 billion was spent on health care for the uninsured in 2008 and was never compensated. That means in a roundabout way, we paid for that, and it was expensive.

There’s so much un-levelheadedness going on with the health care debate right now. Let’s try to do our part by keeping our cool and not letting false facts get the best of us.