UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEM 9
Do you think it would be better if the U.S. had a Universal HealthCare System?
Student: Gail Gough
The health care issue has affected Americans for many years and itcontinues to be a contentious issue. Currently, the U.S. is the onlydeveloped nation that lacks a universal health care system for itscivilians. As a result, civilians are expected to pay for theirhealth care needs. While the wealthy are able to afford health careservices under the present policy, millions of Americans are eitheruninsured or underinsured. As the cost of living continues to rise,it implies that more individuals will be incapable of meeting theirmedical needs. Health care expenses are already out of control formany Americans. Nonetheless, there has been a raging debate onwhether it would be better for the U.S. to have a universal healthcare system. In the following discussion, the essay argues for auniversal system.
Universal Health Care System
There have been many amendments made to America’s health caresystem aimed at ensuring that health care becomes affordable to allAmericans. The closest to universal health care the country hasachieved is the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. The act is asystem whereby the government funds fundamental health care needs forall civilians (Callaghan, 2016). Nonetheless, other equally importantmedical needs remain uncovered for by government. As such, theAmerican Census Bureau approximates that close to 33 millionindividuals lack health insurance (Procon.org, 2016).When compared toother industrialized countries such as, Canada, Japan, the UnitedKingdom, France, Australia and Germany, the U.S. expenses on healthcare are higher (Callaghan, 2016). In addition, America seems to have“worse health outcomes with lower life expectancy, higher infantmortality and higher obesity rates than comparable countries”(Callaghan, 2016). These are problems that are linked to the lack ofuniversal health coverage.
Despite the findings that support the need for a health care systemthat is universal, opponents argue that civilians are solelyresponsible for their health care needs. Health care is compared tosocialism thus, ruling out the duty of government in ensuring thatall its civilians have protected health care. In addition, opponentsare concerned that by making health care universal, its availabilityas well as quality will decline (Procon.org, 2016). However, thequality and ability to access health care for millions of Americansis already poor. This especially applies to civilians who areunemployed and unable to pay for private insurance, due to theexpensive premiums charged. Also, the underinsured cannot accessquality level of care, since their health care insurances are unableto meet all their medical needs. As of now, the health care system inAmerica is failing. It fails to cater for the needs of allindividuals, which calls for the need of a universal system.
Reduce Health Care Expenses
It would be better if the United States had a universal health caresystem because it would reduce health care expenses in the country.There are a number of studies that support the correlation betweenreduced medical expenses and universal health coverage. One suchstudy was conducted on the effectiveness of the single-payer healthinsurance system. Such a system ensures that all civilians access thesame level and quality of health care. The research concluded that“under a single-payer system, total public and private health carespending could be lowered by 592 billion dollars in 2014 and up to1.8 trillion dollars over the next decade” (Procon.org, 2016). Thereduced spending largely derives from reduced organizational andprescription medicine expenses.
A different study conducted by the American Medical Associationdemonstrates that private health coverage spend an average of 11.7%on administrative expenditure compared to 6.3% that is spend bygovernment health programs (Procon.org, 2016). Further researchderives from countries that have implemented universal coverage. Forinstance, Canada “spends half as much per capita on health care asthe United States. In 2010, the United Kingdom managed to providehealth care to all citizens while spending just 41.5% of what theUnited States did per capita” (Procon.org, 2016). It cannot berefuted that the United States spending on health care is higher ascompared to other industrialized countries. A larger percentage ofthe country’s budget is spent on meeting health care needs. Thiscan be attributed to the hundreds of health insurance organizations,which increases the paperwork amounting to 24% of health careexpenditure (Debatewise.org, 2016). A centralized system thatcomprises of a single buyer would reduce such costs and in turnreduce America’s health care expenses.
Health Care Access Equality
The universal system will ensure that all Americans can accesshealth care equally. The main benefit of such a system is that itensures individuals who are unable to afford health care expenses canaccess them. The system does not favor individuals based on theirability to pay health insurance. Rather, it ensures that theuninsured, underinsured and the jobless Americans, who currently facehardships in meeting their health care needs, are able to be treatedin all hospitals. The current health care system is highlyinequitable against Americans who are incapable of paying the highhealth insurance premiums. The most affected population is themillions of uninsured citizens. While many people assume that lack ofhealth insurance is linked to joblessness, it is not the case formany Americans. A larger percent of the uninsured comprise of workingAmericans (National Immigration Law Center, 2014).
Nevertheless, they are not able to afford insurance because theiremployers do not have the health insurance offer. In cases where theemployer gives health insurance, the premiums are expensive, oremployees are considered unqualified for such health care coverage.It is especially the case for individuals who work part-time. As aresult, the uninsured are compelled to pay out-of-pocket to accessmedical services. Those who cannot afford are less likely to seekmedical care even when experiencing serious health conditions. Inaddition, they lack a regular health facility where they often seekmedical advice, which reduces the probability of accessing preventivecare (National Immigration Law Center, 2014). Hence, it isapparent that not all Americans are able to meet their health careneeds in a timely manner. The universal coverage will ensure thatequal opportunity is attained all over the country.
Universal coverage ensures that all Americans have a right to healthcare, which in turn saves lives. The inability to afford healthinsurance has been linked to thousands of deaths. According toProcon.org (2016), “lack of health insurance is associated with asmany as 44,789 deaths per year, which translates into a 40% increasedrisk of death among the uninsured”. Further research depicts thatabove 13,000 fatalities, which occur on a yearly basis amongAmericans aged 55 to 64 years as related to not having healthinsurance coverage (Procon.org, 2016). There is a high rate ofpreventable deaths in America, which can be attributed to a lack oftimely as well as effective access to health care. In fact, “theUnited States ranked at the bottom of a list of 16 rich nations interms of preventable mortality” (Procon.org, 2016). In countrieswith universal coverage, civilians tend to live longer as compared toAmericans.
The avoidable deaths can be attributed to the fact that individualswithout health insurance seem to experience poorer medical care. TheNational Immigration Law Center (2014) notes that “uninsuredadults who are injured in accidents are less likely to recover fullyand more likely to die as a result of their injuries”. In addition,the uninsured have a higher mortality rate due to acute and chronicillnesses, like heart attacks, hypertension and diabetesrespectively. The individuals are unable to schedule frequenthospital visits and seek effective treatment. As a result, they donot get access to the quality of care needed to treat theirconditions in a timely manner, resulting in premature death. Suchdeaths can be saved with universal coverage, since such a systemensures all civilians access health care services at ease andregularly.
It would be better for the U.S. to have a universal health caresystem as it results in improved economic productivity. Whenindividuals are guaranteed that their health care needs are wellcatered for, their lives become healthier. Access to health care islinked to a healthy population. In addition, a healthy populationresonates to an effective workforce, as employees are less likely tomiss work and as such contribute towards the growth of the economy.Workers who have health insurance miss work less often as compared tothe uninsured (Procon.org, 2016). Poor health, coupled withpreventable deaths among working Americans without health insurancelead to reduced work productivity. When more civilians are unable towork as expected, the reduced productivity slows the growth of theeconomy.
A universal health care system also promotes economic growth byincreasing cash flow within the economy. In the United States,civilians without health insurance are compelled to pay for medicalexpenses through out-of-pocket expense. Such payments are likely toresult in bankruptcies, especially when the expenses are high andunexpected, as has been witnessed in the U.S (World HealthOrganization, 2013). Due to the fear that individuals may have tospend highly on health care, many end up withholding their cash assavings. Thus, they reduce their expenditure on domestic products.However, assuming that people are provided with universal coverage,it reduces the fear and out-of-pocket spending. Thus, civilians donot feel compelled to save for unexpected health expenses, and areable to spend their money in other sectors. As a result, money flowswithin the economy, which in turn boosts economic growth (WorldHealth Organization, 2013).
Benefit to Businesses
The current health care system in the United States does not supportthe growth of businesses. The only businesses that appear to benefitfrom individual health insurance are the health insurers. Manybusinesses are required to pay for the health insurance of theirpersonnel. More than half of the American population receives healthcare coverage from policies provided by their employers. As such,businesses tend to incur huge labor costs. The outcome is that manyindividuals are unwilling or apprehensive of starting businesses,because they do not want to lose the health coverage already providedat existing workplaces. Also, starting a business means having toincur huge health care related expenses that could hinder the growthof a new business. Thus, reducing the incentive to start businessesor for many Americans to venture into self employment (Procon.org,2016).
It is not only small or start-up businesses that are negativelyaffected by health care costs. Properly established companies havealso experienced declines owing to the health related expenses oftheir workforce, like General Motors. A universal health care systemwill ensure that businesses are able to save on expenses such aslabor costs. The money is used in expanding business, hiring moreemployees and investing in the growth of the country. It alsobenefits businesses because they do not have to bear the burden ofreduced productivity, which has been linked to poor access to healthcare. As a result, more Americans will likely venture intobusinesses.
The United States does not have a universal health care system. Someindividuals receive employer-paid health insurance and others accesshealth coverage from private insurers. A high percentage of Americansare either uninsured or underinsured. The uninsured lack any form ofhealth coverage. The underinsured despite having health insurance areat time compelled to incur out-of-pocket health care expenses.Propositions have been made towards changing the current systemtowards one that guarantees universal coverage for all Americans.However, opponents argue that civilians should be accountable fortheir health care needs. But, it would be better for the U.S. to havea universal health care system. Such a system reduces the currentlyhigh health care expenditure in America, ensures all citizens haveequal access to medical services, saves lives of the uninsured,results in economic benefits and supports business growth.
Callaghan, T. (2016). 3 reasons the U.S. does not have universalhealth coverage. U.S. News. Retrieved from:http://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2016-10-26/3-reasons-the-us-doesnt-have-universal-health-coverage
Debatewise.org. (2016). America should have universal healthcare. Retrieved from:http://debatewise.org/debates/902-america-should-have-universal-healthcare/#yes1
National Immigration Law Center. (2014). Issue brief: Theconsequences of being uninsured, 1-7.
Procon.org. (2016). Should all Americans have the right (beentitled) to health care? Retrieved from:http://healthcare.procon.org/
World Health Organization. (2013). Arguing for universalhealth coverage, 6-36.