By Kelsey Keener
CEDAR CITY–Students gathered in the SUU Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service last Wednesday to discuss the current state of healthcare in the United States during the weekly Pizza and Politics.
Miles Anderson and Serena Woodhouse moderated the event and began by asking audience members what aspects of the healthcare system they do or do not like. Students brought up aspects of the system that they felt were convoluted or unfair to consumers, such as pharmaceutical companies holding monopolies on important medicine or the long amount of time it can sometimes take to receive necessary care.
Anderson and Woodhouse took time to explain that the current healthcare system mandates insurance coverage, but will no longer do so in 2019 due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law at the end of 2017. When asked, several students opposed mandated insurance, citing that some families may need to prioritize other things, it can have unintended consequences and there are some people who would prefer to pay out of pocket for healthcare. Others brought up the idea that mandated insurance provides protection for everyone, because when hospitals and other healthcare providers have to cover costs that patients don’t or can’t pay for it takes away from the services they are able to provide.
The high cost of healthcare in the United States was also brought up and students posed possible explanations for this. Reasons ranged from the fact that the U.S. is larger than some comparable countries and has more diversity of people and needs than other countries, to the observation that U.S. citizens tend to put off healthcare until absolutely necessary, making it so injuries or illnesses require more serious care.
After discussing the high costs associated with healthcare, Anderson and Woodhouse moved the conversation to the topic of how to reduce those costs. Some students posited that the cost of healthcare is the responsibility of pharmaceutical and insurance companies, while others said the federal government should be responsible for lowering costs. Some said it is up to citizens to pressure these entities to lower prices, while others suggested that citizens, companies and the government need to be working together due to the complexity of healthcare.
Anderson and Woodhouse briefly explained the approval process that drugs have to go through, which takes a minimum of 11 years and an out-of-pocket cost of $1.4 billion for the producing company. Many students felt that the high cost to consumers of some of the drugs being produced is not justified by money and time needed to produce them.
To close the discussion, students posed possible solutions to issues within the healthcare system. Many students said citizens needs to take more responsibility of their health, including healthier diets and more exercise, as well as with becoming more involved in legislation concerning healthcare.