Health care: a vital issue

Stephanie Kudrle

Health care is no longer just an issue for the elderly.

With health-care premiums and prescription drug costs increasing, presidential candidates have been debating the future of health care in this country.

President George W. Bush and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry have different plans for providing affordable health care to uninsured Americans.

Kerry wants to import prescription drugs from Canada and allow everyone access to the same health-care coverage members of Congress have, according to his Web site.

Bush has proposed a health-savings tax credit to help small-business employees afford health care, according to his re-election Web site. He has opposed importing prescription drugs from Canada.

University junior Tracy Schultz said she isn’t too worried about health care right now, because she has a few years of school left.

“I have parents for that,” she said.

But Schultz said she knows it will be something to think about in a few years.

Last month’s Minnesota Daily poll showed that many students think like Schultz. Fifty-seven percent of polled students between ages 18 and 21 said they felt the issue was very important.

However, older students rated the issue as more of a priority. Approximately 67 percent of students between ages 26 and 30 rated the issue as very important.

And although health care might not seem urgent to some students, it’s something everyone should pay attention to, said Dave Golden, public health and marketing director at the University’s Boynton Health Service. Health care is especially important for those about to get a job, he said.

“Purchasing insurance on your own is expensive,” he said. “And a lot of those policies tend to under insure.”

Louise McLainan, a first-year English student, said she doesn’t know what constitutes adequate coverage when looking for a job.

“I have no idea,” she said. “I know it’s a good idea to have (a health-care plan).”

Second-year medical student Angela Fryer said the country needs a plan to offer health insurance to everybody.

She said that with the rates of insurance plans, many businesses can no longer offer health care for employees.

“That’s a problem,” Fryer said. “It’s going to be a huge issue when students graduate and look for a job, because it’s not the same as it was 10 years ago.”

Fryer, co-president of the American Medical Student Association at the University, said students should talk to parents or someone who has health insurance to learn what to look for in a plan.

There are several things to keep in mind when choosing a health-care plan, Golden said. It is “crazy” to look at a plan that doesn’t cover at least several million dollars in costs, he said.

“It’s so easy to run up a big bill from something catastrophic,” he said.

Students should look at what needs to be paid out of pocket, he said, and if there are any conditions on the coverage.

Health care is important right now because the number of people without insurance has been increasing, he said.

“Having so many people uninsured means the system is broken and not working,” Golden said. “We need to be working towards a system where we can get everybody taken care of.”

Despite the recent attention given to health care by the candidates, many students do not pay attention because they think it doesn’t involve them, University political science professor Bill Flanigan said.

“But it’s certainly a general problem for the society we live in,” he said.

He said he thinks Kerry has an easier time getting across his message about health care, but Bush is in a difficult position.

“He can’t claim success on this issue,” he said. “So the attacks on Kerry for advocating a huge government bureaucracy are about the best they can do.”

– Anna Weggel and Kari Petrie contributed to this article.