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The Foundation for a Strong Economy 

It’s time to think differently about kids’ health care

Has it ever occurred to you that we may be looking at health care in this county in the wrong light? What if we viewed health care in the same light that we view education for our children?

After all, we want our children to be successful in life, and to that end we have a system that guarantees — even mandates — education through the 12th grade. Although our public education system is something Americans can, for the most part, be proud of, it wasn’t developed because we cared for children in this country. It was developed to provide for the country’s need for a better-educated workforce to build a strong economy.

Public education is not a baseline or a bare-bones design; it is a level of education that provides our children with the necessary tools to succeed. Our education system still allows for choice. People can spend extra money for an education that they consider to be better. (Some would argue that people can, and do, pay extra money for an education that is inferior to the public system.)What if we looked at health care for our children in the same way? What if health care with an established level of guaranteed coverage for our children was considered a social support for a strong workforce? As a support for a strong economy, isn’t that worth investing in? Similar to education, the choice to spend more for more  could still be there, but there would be a level of guaranteed access to appropriate, affordable health care for all children.

Let’s look a little deeper. Healthy children have a better chance at learning; just ask any teacher. They are absent less often and have more energy. And children who have health insurance have better access to health care. For uninsured children, the likelihood of not having seen a doctor in the past year is more than three times greater than it is for insured children. In addition, uninsured children are more than 13 times as likely to lack a usual source of care, five times more likely to have an unmet dental need, five times more likely to have an unmet vision care need and nearly four times as likely to have an unmet need for prescription drugs. And sadly enough, uninsured children are more than three times as likely as insured children to have an unmet need for mental health services.Have I got your attention yet? If not, here is some more information. Do you own a business? If so, sick children are one of the leading causes for workers being absent. Having children without access to care at a level that supports their potential future success not only impacts the workforce of tomorrow, it also adversely impacts today’s economy.

Nowhere do I mention anything about “free” health care. Society as a whole pays for public education because of its benefit to the whole of society. Just as public education is not free, nor would this guaranteed level of health care be; it would be financed similar to public education. Everyone pays according to their ability to pay through taxes, levies, etc.

Please reread what I’ve written; does it make sense? If so, start discussing this idea with your friends and neighbors. If this doesn’t make sense, please e-mail me at [email protected] with your comments. I’m interested in them!

For more information about health care programs currently available for children and other family members, please call Health For All, a nonprofit, community project, facilitated by Community-Minded Enterprises, at 444-3066, or toll-free at 866-444-3066.

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