Muslims & Healthcare

Muslim Matters

Muslims & Healthcare

By Laura Fawaz, TMO (A research project of the TMO Foundation)

TMO Foundation undertook this research project to find out how Muslims feel about the health care system approved by the US Congress and now under review by the Supreme Court.

Metro-Detroit, MI–Simply looked at, Obamacare is a universal health care system for all Americans.  Though take a closer look, and find that the top two “concerns” really are republicans vs. Obamacare, and Fortune 500 companies’ costs.

The reports on the subject come in as republicans taking a swipe against it, not a specific governor, or senator, but a republican, and vise-versa.  For example, New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the legislature’s bill that would have laid the foundation for implementing the federal health reform law.  Christie is only the second Republican governor to veto such a bill; the first was New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who did so last year.  Though, many more have urged the Supreme Court to delay action on implementing this bill.  Alabama recently delayed action on a health exchange citing the “looming uncertainties”, as has Illinois.

The Supreme Court decision isn’t that far from decision time: It’s expected to come down in late June of this year.  In about two months time, these states will know a lot more about whether Obamacare still stands.  The big question then is, how much can they do?

For the states that get going after the Supreme Court decision is passed, will have about six months to tackle a lengthy to-do list.  They must pass legislation that authorizes an exchange, then hire a board to govern it, find vendors to set up the technical aspects and have it nearly up and running by Jan. 1, 2013.  Each to-do will not come easy, as there are technical roadblocks, too.  For example, there’s a finite number of vendors — the technology companies that know how to run insurance marketplaces, most of whom already have a slew of contracts.

In states like New Jersey, where work has not started yet, it looks increasingly likely that a state-run exchange will not be in the cards.  If the Supreme Court upholds Obamacare, then it will likely be the federal government stepping in to set up the health insurance exchange in New Jersey — and in any other states that have yet to get moving.

As all bills that pass though legislation, this must complete the necessary requirements to officially be instated.  The federal government will more than likely have to step in to assist certain states to complete their list, adding to the increasing cost that worries not only most Americans, but companies especially.

Though whether or not the Supreme Court rules in favor of the president’s health care plan, companies are going to find a way to cut costs.  What Fortune 500 companies really want from U.S. health care reform is pretty basic: They want sustainable costs and healthy, productive employees.  And businesses desperately need these things, and it’s going to get them, one way or another.  The method in which the American health care system funnels it’s spending is un-like other countries, and in terms of costs, that’s a negative.  Most highly developed nations use some type of universal single-payer system that spreads health costs across the entire economy.  But about 60% of U.S. health care spending goes through employers via employer-sponsored medical insurance.  That’s an expense that many of those companies’ competitors in the global economy don’t bear, hence one of the many breaks that outsourcing provides.

Exacerbating the problem is the level of health care spending.  According to the World Health Organization, in 2008 the average American spent $7,164 in health care costs, vs. $3,922 in Germany and $265 in China.  Making the problem worse, those costs are rising much faster in America than in any other major economy.  And while these costs are growing, the U.S. economy is not.  That is an unsustainable trend: If employers’ health care costs keep increasing faster than revenues, eventually 100% of revenues will be used to pay health care costs.

Economist Herb Stein (According to Fortune Magazine) observed, if something can’t go on forever, it would stop.  Exactly how will it stop?  Pre-Obamacare, America’s largest employers (banding together as the National Business Group on Healthcare) had a plan for controlling their employee health costs.  They favored an individual mandate — everyone must have insurance, which Obamacare famously includes, but they wanted to let the market set premiums. 

When discussing these concerns that come with Obama care to local Muslims, the first question was “Do you think that America should adopt a universal health care system.  The majority responded with (see pie chart).

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For those whom responded with yes, the common reason was along the lines of the well being of the American people, regardless of their income.  As for those whom answered with no, “I think health care should be reformed but I do not think universal health care is the answer.  I think having universal health care will make people less motivated to work hard to get the jobs with the best benefits,” said Donna Coleman, 30.

The next question asked the thoughts of the surveyed on the current status of Obamacare, referring to just needing the final decision from the Supreme Court.  The majority of the responses fell into these three categories: That there’s needs to be a more careful review at the overall situation, believing that it is not fair for those who are working to receive the same benefits as those who are not working, and lastly, the financial burdens.

“I think the Supreme Court and the President should very carefully review Obama Care before making any decisions on it and if it will not have any severe negative consequences for the American people then by all means pass it.  However, if after careful examination, consideration and deliberation the concept of Obama care is found to be an unnecessary burden on U.S. citizens then it should not be passed,” said Christina Sobh, 18.

After review of all of the survey responses from the over 100 Muslim Americans, it can be concluded that the majority of Muslim Americans feel that if there is something that can improve the well-being of Americans as a whole, then it’s something that should be done; though only upon careful examination, and at a minimal cost that will not diminish current lifestyle.


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