Pros and Cons of Universal Health Care
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.
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.