Pros and Cons of Universal Health Care
Everyone deserves at least basic health care irrespective of their origin, background, and financial status. Recently, there was a coalition made of over 500 leading health and development organizations from all corners of the world urging governments to fasten reforms that will see everyone, everywhere, can have access to quality health care without being forced into poverty – This is what has been the underlying principle of universal health care.
What is Universal Health Care?
Universal Health Care which is also known as universal care, universal coverage or universal health coverage is a term that is used to address a health care system which provides health care and financial protection to every citizen of a specific country.
Universal health care is all about providing a specified health care package which will be of benefit to every member of the society with the aim of providing financial risk protection, improved health outcomes and improved access to health services. This type of health package does not provide cover for everything rather it can be determined by 3 critical dimensions which include;
- Who is covered?
- What services are covered?
- How much of the cost is covered
According to WHO, universal health care is a situation in which every citizen can receive health services without incurring financial hardship.
Universal health care was first started in Germany in the year 1883 and spread through other countries especially the rich countries of Europe. America is not practicing this type of health at the moment.
The objectives of Universal health care system include:
- A strong, efficient, well-run health system;
- A system for financing health services;
- Access to essential medicines and technologies;
- A sufficient capacity of well-trained, motivated health workers.
Universal health care system is sometimes referred to as free health care (in Canada). In a real world, there is nothing like a free health care, somebody is actually paying for it.
Universal healthcare is the type of health care plan where every member of the society can receive health coverage irrespective of their social status, income, age, gender, race, pre-existing condition or wealth. This means that as far as you are certified as a legal member of the region where universal health care is being practiced then you are eligible for universal health care.
When we talk about universal health care we are referring to health care that’s paid for or subsidized by the government, which is also called single-payer health care system. Since World War II most countries of the world offer some form of universal health care for their citizens. So what are the pros and cons of this type of health care system? Should there be universal health care for the United States? There are many issues on American’s health care system regardless the fate of ObamaCare which is also known as Affordable Care Act.
According to the data from the National Coalition on Health Care; more than 45 million Americans do not have health insurance. The objective of universal healthcare is to provide these people without insurance and other legal members of the society with an opportunity to get the health care that they deserved without worrying about financial hardship.
Proponents of the universal healthcare based their argument on the fact that no human irrespective of his social status should be allowed to go without adequate health care. They go further to state that right to health will help put a stop to medical bankruptcies, reduce overall health care spending, improve public health and even help small business to flourish while those against it argues that it could lead to socialism and more government debt.Let’s take a look at the pros and cons list of universal health care.
What is Single Payer Health Care System?
Universal health care can be a single-payer or two-tier payer system, we will discuss what this means below:
This type of health care system cover every citizen under a single plan funded by the government and provides comprehensive health care. In Europe and other parts of the world; most developed countries have one form of universal, publicly financed health care.
Single-payer health care system is also called “Medicare for all”. Under this type of health care plan, a single public or quasi-public agency will be tasked with the financing of health care while the delivery of care remains largely in the private hands. If this type of health care system is implemented in the United States, every resident would be covered for all medically necessary services such as doctor’s visit, preventive treatment, hospital, mental health, long-term care, dental care, reproductive health care, prescription drug, vision and medical supply costs.
Should this be implemented; the today’s inefficient system which only rich can afford will be replaced by public savings, premium will disappear and over 95% of entire US households would save money. Financial barriers such as co-pays and deductibles would no longer stop patients from receiving quality health care.
Pros of Universal Health Care
Equal Access To Health Care
- The main advantage of this type of health care is it gives people that can’t afford health care the services they need. This health care system allows basic health are services for all citizens and it doesn’t discriminate against anyone. It helps those that aren’t employed or have other difficulties get health care when they need it the most.
- This is perhaps the greatest advantage of universal health care, every member of the society that practice this type of health plan can be able to access health care no matter his social status. Since no single human life is greater to another, the poor can be able to receive exactly the type of health care that could only be afforded by rich man under normal circumstances. This type of health care does not discriminate against anyone. It puts all the legal member of the society in the equal pedestal.
Improve Public Health
- The entire population spreads around the cost of the health care so everyone can at least get the basic care that they need.
- This type of health care will help to improve the health of general population, since every member of the society has an equal access to medical health care. Hence, it will lead to reduction in the amount of illness suffered by general population; create healthier people and increased productivity.
- Citizens can get free treatments for basic conditions without the fear of not being able to afford them. This can help reduce the spread of infectious diseases and other common health problems that people may ignore if they can’t afford health care.
- It’s easier with universal health care to have everyone under one system. Doctors can concentrate on patients and not problems with insurance and other factors.
- With universal health care in place, doctors and other health care professionals can finally concentrate on treating the patient without worrying themselves with paperworks about the patients’ insurance and other necessary paperworks.
Stop Medical Bankruptcies
- Universal health care can put an end to medical bankruptcies. In 2007, about 62% of all United States bankruptcies in one or another were related to medical expenses even for those with health insurance. With universal health care, medical bankruptcy will be a thing of the past leading to a healthier and richer nation.
- Universal health care will encourage entrepreneurship according to the projection made by Kauffman-RAND Institute for Entrepreneurship Public Policy. Most individuals stay away from starting their own business due to fear of losing health care insurance they are enjoying from their current employer. With universal health care in place, self-employment in United State could increase by 2 to 3.5%.
- As of 2011, about 59.5% of Americans were enjoying health insurance through their employer in the private sector. The high cost that is associated with paying employee’s health insurance put U.S private businesses in competitive disadvantage in the international marketplace. Hence with universal healthcare, private businesses can free up the fund use for health insurance for investment in other areas of their business. This could reduce employer labor cost by more than 12%.
- Without a doubt, people work more when they live healthier lives which allow them to contribute as much they can to the nation’s economy. Universal healthcare will raise the standard of living of every individual in the society which will lead to more economic productivity.
- President Obama of the United States delivered his last state of the union speech in December 2015 and mentioned that the United States is the most powerful nation in the world and the state of the union is strong. If that’s the case, I don’t see any reason why the government can’t provide universal health care to its citizens. If some Asian countries like Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea can do that, why can’t US? Other than the efficiency of the government running universal health care, I think the other reason is most Americans don’t think health care is not supposed to be the responsibility of the government.
- Universal health care also draws it support from the United Nations Declaration made on Dec.10, 1948 which stated that “everyone has the right to a standard of living proper for the health and well-being of the individual and his family, which includes medical care”. Again in 2005, the United States and World Health Organization members further throw their support for universal health care with the signing of the World Health Assembly resolution 58.33 which said that every member of the society should have access to health care services without facing financial hardship when seeking for health care.
Cons of Universal Health Care
Long Wait Time
- This type of health care system often results in long wait times for patients and not everyone may receive the type of care that they need. Since this type of system is run by the government there can be a lot of red tape and bureaucracy that can result in poor care especially if the country is already poor and doesn’t have a lot of revenues to spend on the care of its citizens.
Lead to A Socialism State
- The president candidate Bernie Sanders has been criticized that his universal health care plan is such an un-fetched dream. To make this happen, he admitted that he would have to increase taxes to every citizen, which can plunge United States into a socialism state where government controls the distribution of goods and services. United States is currently practicing free market system where market forces determine the availability and cost of health care services and not the federal government. The introduction of universal health care will lead to great distortion in the economy. It could be a first step towards government controlling other aspect of the economy.
- The universal health care will reduce the amount of money doctors can make thereby reducing the attraction in the practice. This could create shortage of doctors in the long-run.Those with higher incomes may complain that their money is going to pay for the health care of other citizens when it should be going to pay for their own health care.
Medical Abuse Leads to Rationing
- People may abuse the system and seek care for conditions which don’t require a visit to the hospital and these people can tax the system and cause unnecessary burdens on the system.
- Adopting universal health care in United States could lead to rationing of medical services as seen in countries like New Zealand, Australia, France, Canada, United Kingdom and Taiwan. These countries that practice universal health care ration health care services through methods such as budgeting, controlled distribution, service restriction and price setting.
There Is No Free Lunch
- Universal health care is not really free since government will need to generate fund to support the program. Hence, it could lead to an increase in taxes. This is shown in UK and other European countries where universal health care is being practiced with taxes increasing year over year.
No Competition. No Innovation
- Universal health care eliminates the free market for health care where prices may be lower.
- There is no incentive to create better medications or pursue better medical services.
- The universal health care will reduce the amount of money doctors can make thereby reducing the attraction in the practice. This could create shortage of doctors in the long-run.
Takes Time to Get There
- Universal health care often has a lot of rules and regulations that people have to follow and there is going to be lots of learning curves or probably trials and errors or even some technical difficulties just like when Obamacare first launched.
Increase Government Debt
- This is probably the biggest argument against universal health care. Implementing a single payer health care system causes an increase in taxes as the system needs to be paid for. The overall costs if the system can be draining on a country and causes large debts.
- The existing U.S government health care programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program is already putting a huge strain on public budget. Adding a universal healthcare program to these would amount to enormous growth in government spending and debt.
- Governments aren’t that great at running large systems and the fact that the government runs health care can lead to a lot of problems. To run the health care system there may need to be cuts made in other areas of the government which weaken those areas to compensate for the need of the health care system.
There will always be a debate over the advantages and disadvantages of universal health care. Like all systems, there’s going to be a lot of debates over the problems and the benefits. But different countries have different situations so if the pros outweigh the cons, going with universal health care would be the best approach.
What countries have free health care?
Below we have made a list of countries with the cheapest medical care. These countries unlike the United States, promotes the Universal Health Care System which is being advocated by the World Health organization. The justification for implementing universal health care is to create convenient and sustainable health care service to all of the people in a specific country:
List of Countries with free health care includes
|Country||Start Date of Universal Health Care|
|United Arab Emirates||1971|
Why Can’t Americans Have Universal Healthcare Like Europeans?
Many Americans have been wondering why almost every developed countries of the world have universal health care system but US don’t. Many reasons have been attributed as what caused this.
Health care in the United States today is very expensive compared to other countries. In fact, a survey showed that an average American spends 50% more than the next-highest country. The same data showed that when you collate the average cost of health care in the 34 European countries, United States spends 200% than all of them.
To introduce a single-payer healthcare system in the United States from scratch would imply not just nationalizing the insurance industry, but also severely reducing payments to hospitals, doctors and other integral parts of the healthcare industry. Moreover, many people working for politically powerful lobbies would be unemployed or bankrupted, and many others would be faced with whopping pay cuts. Free health care in the United States, though may seem like desirable policy but it would never be politically viable.
Going further, it is believed that implementation of a single-payer system in the United States would make current health care system unattractive, those involve in research will have only one paymaster which is the government. The lack of competition will cripple the desire to invest in health care by private individuals, leading to a reduction in the quality of health available in the United States.
To summarize it, single payer system in today’s the United States is faced with intertwined political and policy problems that are insurmountable. America for many years is faced with a lack of cost controls and this can’t be undone overnight. As at the moment, single payer health system is not politically viable, the cost attached to it is excessive, there would be a reduction in quality of health care and many people would face job loss if implemented.