The US maintains a unique hybrid health system that is mostly funded by private health insurance companies, and also partly funded by federal money in the form of Medicaid and Medicare. The lack of universal health care, despite the efforts of the Obama administration, has essentially led to a two-tier health care system where private health insurance is largely offered as part of an employer’s health package. This private system makes up just over fifty percent of all health care spending in the US, making it the largest single provider of health insurance in the country. The remaining money comes from US government funds through a combination of Medicare, Medicaid and military health care programs. This also includes health insurance in California.
To look at health insurance in California, it is very useful to examine the nature of health care in the United States as a whole, and also look into the possible reasons for its existence.
The Difficulty of Paying for Good Health
It stands to reason that health care through regular visits to physicians and general practitioners is the leading provider of preventative health care. The idea behind preventative health care is not only to detect acute and chronic illnesses and early and treat them, but also to relieve the long-term economic burden upon the health system.
The central problem in the US is that people who are uninsured cannot afford regular visits to general physicians. Clearly, this has an impact on chronic health conditions and the burden on the health care system as a whole. As obesity rises, and the prevalence of obesity-related health problems also increases, the costs associated with health care visits also increase.
Health insurance in California is a reflection of the hybrid health care system in the United States. One may find a multitude of health insurance companies willing to offer a variety of health and care packages at a variety of prices.
The Philosophical Underpinnings of Health Care in the US
The idea of universal health care in the US has long had detractors on both sides of the political divide. The reasons for it are complex. They essentially boil down to the belief that universal health care represents the worst excesses of socialism, and will lead to both the collapse of the American spirit of libertarianism and independence, and the shuttering of too many special interests in the form of private companies making a profit.
Historically, the US has no egalitarian ethos or belief that all citizens should have equal access to resources. This can be witnessed in the widespread fear that socialism is not only a terrible idea, but that it somehow equates to Communism. US citizens have grown up with the idea drummed into them from an early age that only those who can afford the best should have the best. This brutalist view is tempered with the idea that if one works hard to achieve dreams, then affluence is only a few steps away.
To find the root of these views is complex and difficult, but some commentators and historians point to the revolutionary origins of modern-day America, and the mantra “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Psychologically speaking, the ideas of individualism and the pursuit of personal happiness can only lead to psychological and social segregation among people. In this view of the world, the fear of theft, the fear of having nothing, and the pursuit of wealth at the expense of those around one are of prime importance. To suggest that the modern hybrid system of US health care is not a reflection of this underlying philosophy is to miss the point of the problem of access associated with it.
Problematically, these views have also led to the formation of a health care system that is largely dependent on private health companies, and where those with gainful employment are the only ones admitted to affluent private health care facilities.
Opposition to Universal Health Care
The widespread opposition to universal health care is a largely a function of the longstanding opposition between the laissez-faire political tradition and the progressive tradition in the United States. This opposition has created a tension where universal health care has often been touted as a natural extension of basic human rights, but has faced opposition from prominent political and economic figures and simply does not feel quite right, according to the libertarian and individualist worldviews of much of the population.
Having examined some of the opposition to universal health care and the possible roots of the hybrid health care system in the United States, it is time to look at health insurance in California.
Health Care in California as a Reflection of the Hybrid Health Care System
Health insurance in California is multi-layered, with the highest proportion of funds being delivered through private health companies. However, the Medicaid system in California is called Medi-cal, and is equally funded by state and federal sources. The philosophy of Medi-cal is to offer affordable health insurance for those on low incomes, low-income families with children, disabled people, seniors, the foster care sector, pregnant women and people who have specific chronic diseases where medication is expensive.
Though there is a range of private health care companies competing for the health dollar, numerous comparison websites exist which make the process of finalizing a decision easier. Though health insurance is typically available as part of an employee’s package, including dental in many cases through Denti-cal, private health insurance is available to those willing to pay for it.
Health insurance in California, therefore, is really a microcosm of the nationwide health care system, and prioritizes private health funds and private health insurance over equal access for all.
Dental Health in the Context of General Health
Through recent scientific studies, it has become clear that dental health contributes to a pattern of overall health. When dental health suffers, the general health of an individual is often put at risk, with plaque bacteria shown to be responsible for contributing to chronic illnesses like heart disease.
In this context, recent changes to Denti-cal have not mitigated the dysfunction that has plagued it. The overall dental health of Californians has suffered as a result of dental providers not participating in the program due to low reimbursements and administrative problems. Consequently, the long-term financial burden on the health care system as a whole due to chronic dental health-related diseases cannot be determined at this time.
Somewhat surprisingly, health insurance in California and private health insurance as a whole do provide some positive benefits.
The Benefits of a Multi-Layered Health Insurance System
Though it is relatively simple to poke holes in the hybrid health care system that dominates the US, and the mentality behind it, the multiple options provided by private health companies actually offer a great wealth of options for individuals and families. Increased competition among private health funds ensures that there are a wide variety of packages to choose from at a range of prices. This also includes health insurance in California.