The Need for Universal Healthcare (UHC) in the United States
Healthcare is an essential component of a thriving economy. Individuals prioritize healthcare in the financial decisions, whether for themselves and their families. In the U.S. and other parts of the world, healthcare forms an integral part of political debate. Some countries like the Unites States integrate government and personal healthcare financing. On the other hand, countries like Germany and the United Kingdom have universal healthcare for all citizens. In the U.S., there is division regarding the practicality of universal healthcare, given the size of the U.S. population. Like other critical services such as education, healthcare benefits an individual and allows the economy to thrive. The cost of healthcare has increased dramatically, and millions of Americans remain uninsured. Vulnerable communities such as low-income persons and the elderly cannot access appropriate services given the high cost of health services. The United States should implement universal healthcare to ensure that all individuals, regardless of economic or social class, access free healthcare as a right.
Overview of Universal Healthcare
The United States has commercialized healthcare, making it too expensive for ordinary persons to access. Healthcare spending in the United States increased by approximately $933.5 billion between 1996 and 2013 (Dieleman et al.). The authors reveal that service price and intensity made up over 50% of the overall spending. The cost of healthcare continues to go as providers utilize more technology and advanced forms of treatment. Healthcare cost is among the leading causes of family bankruptcy in the United States (Khera et al). Individuals and families without health insurance are likely to suffer in cases of lengthy hospitalization and chronic illnesses. Universal healthcare is the most viable solution to protect vulnerable communities and families from the oppressive healthcare system.
The United States is among the wealthiest countries in the world. Other developed nations such as Britain and Germany have shown that universal healthcare can work. Based on the size of its economy and available technology, the United States can implement universal healthcare without causing significant disruptions in other government services. On the same note, countries with a large population, such as China, have implemented universal healthcare. China has achieved nearly universal health coverage (Yu et al.). The United States population is approximately a third of the Chinese population; therefore, the country's large population cannot be an excuse for the absence of universal healthcare. Not all Americans have the financial capacity to cater for their insurance. Also, it is unethical to provide health services based on individuals' financial abilities. Private insurance is a key contributor to the growing health costs, hence the need for government intervention to standardize healthcare costs. In this regard, the government must become the leading health insurance provider through universal healthcare.
Despite being among the high-income countries, the United States does not guarantee health services for its people. In this regard, U.S. residents pay for healthcare costs out of their pockets. Alspaugh et al. argue that out-of-pocket payments result in worse outcomes for individuals' health and economic status. Individuals paying out of their pocket are likely to minimize healthcare spending and divert finances from essential areas such as education. Out-of-pocket healthcare spending worsens individuals' welfare and exposes families to bankruptcy. For example, the authors highlight the effects of health spending on vulnerable communities and economically disadvantaged groups. For example, in the United States, people of color, rural inhabitants, and low-income earners have less access to health services. Consequently, limited health access exposes these groups to increased health risks. Therefore, UHC is essential as a solution to limited healthcare access for vulnerable groups in the United States.
Healthcare spending in the United States has risen substantially, causing individuals and families to suffer. Dieleman et al. document the rising healthcare spending in the U.S. between 1995 to 2015. They reveal that by 2015, healthcare spending comprises about 17.5% of the U.S. economy, indicating the strain on individuals' pockets (Dieleman et al.). Various factors have resulted in rising healthcare costs, including disease prevalence and incidence, an aging population, population size, and service utilization. Although healthcare spending is not bad, the authors highlight that the U.S. has witnessed increased spending associated with high charges and increased utilization of technology. If unchecked, healthcare costs are likely to continue rising, preventing millions of Americans from accessing health services.
Healthcare is a critical component of a thriving economy. Yu et al. highlight china's success in the implementation of universal healthcare. Additionally, China has achieved nearly universal social health insurance coverage under various statutory schemes. While the steps toward universal health coverage are commendable, there is a need to merge different schemes to enhance efficacy of health coverage. In addition, Yu et al. provide an overview of the institutional structures and improvements that have allowed China to achieve near-universal healthcare coverage. Given China's population of over a billion people, the article offers a helpful resource in understanding the dynamics of universal healthcare. The country's population size has been among the excuses for the lack of universal health coverage. In this regard, China's case offers a practical example to demystify claims based on population size.
Significance of UHC in the US
Access to quality and affordable health care is necessary in the achievement of a countries goals and global objectives. The Sustainable Development Goals demand that all countries provide quality and affordable health care services to support their citizens socially and economically. UHC protects citizens from financial pressure because it prevents out-of-pocket payments, which are usually expensive and deny people access to affordable health services (Chetty). Additionally, UHC enhances health care equality because people from low-income classes benefit from it. For instance, Canada's health care system is characterized by the provision of UHC that covers medical and hospital services (Martins et al.). The success of UHC is that Canada has assisted in providing affordable and quality health care for the aging population that experience financial constraints. Therefore, UHC is necessary in the U.S. because it will reduce health care disparity, which is determined by a person's financial eligibility.
During the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic between 2019 and 2020, the U.S. health care system faced myriads of issues. Access to health care services was one of the challenges that resulted in increased positive cases and death from Covid-19. The U.S. health care system is expensive, and only people with adequate money can access quality health care. The majority of the population find it challenging to access quality health care. However, the provision of UHC increases access to care ("The Importance of Universal Health Care in Improving Our Nation's Response to Pandemics and Health Disparities"). Most developed and developing countries with UHC struggle with combating the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, but their mortality outcome is better that that of the U.S. For instance, China's Basic Public Health Services (BPHS) provides free basic health services that improve maternal health and reduce maternal mortality. Therefore, the U.S. needs UHC to assist its expanding the target group for people requiring quality health care services.
Accessing health care services in the U.S. remains a challenge for the majority of the population. The high cost because of health insurance cover restricts the majority of the population in receiving quality treatment, which is a basic right for all humans. According to Idealmed Health, medical debt is one of the major constraints limiting people's access to quality health care services. For instance, 33% of Americans with medical bills in 2017 admitted to lacking money to pay for other basic needs such as food and housing. Medical bankruptcy prevents people from receiving quality Medicare. However, UHC is vital in the U.S. to prevent the issue of medical bankruptcy. Under the single-pay system, adopted and working in China and Canada, the government pays for medical bills instead of private citizens. Therefore, UHC is important in assisting people in enjoying quality health care services without worrying about money. The success of UHC in Canada demonstrates the need for an affordable and quality health care plan for the public.
The growing number of people with chronic diseases in the U.S. puts pressure on the health care system. It is estimated that 6 six out of ten adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with a chronic aliment, and 1:3 adults have two or more chronic diseases (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). This rising number of chronic diseases puts financial pressure on the government. The U.S. government spends approximately $3.8 trillion annually on health care ("About Chronic Diseases"). However, UHC assists in addressing the increasing rate of chronic sickness crisis (Zieff et al.). Additionally, Zieff et al. found that the cost of obesity in the U.S. costs the government $66 billion annually. Providing an affordable and accessible health care system through UHC will encourage people to seek earlier interventions in combating the risks associated with chronic diseases. Thus, UHC is important in the U.S. because will reduce government spending on health care, and improve public health.
The minority ethnic groups and people from low social class in the U.S. face challenges in accessing quality health care. The U.S. system favors the rich because they access high quality care without long waits (Tanne). However, the health care system does not favor the poor that requires insurance coverage or a person paying more to receive treatment. Tanne points out that the underinsured, the poor, the uninsured, and people from the minority ethnic group can only access poor health care services, which undermined their health, resulting in severe outcomes. The U.S. need to adopt and implement UHC to assist its people in accessing quality and affordable health care. UHC is the best option for the U.S. because it prevents inequality in accessing health care services. Therefore, UHC is essential in the U.S. to assist the government in protecting the right of the people, regardless of the age and class.
Challenges Facing UHC in the U.S.
Every U.S. state has different policies regarding healthcare coverage and the interpretation of Medicare, Medicaid, and other available government-funded insurance schemes. In this regard, the available information may not often cut across all states. Unlike other countries like Germany, which approach healthcare from a centralized perspective, the U.S. is decentralized, thus presenting significant challenges in arriving at a universal solution. On the same note, the debate on health coverage attracts significant interest from politicians, insurance companies, and health service providers. Therefore, another challenge will involve countering the arguments made against universal healthcare. For example, some critics argue that the decentralized nature of the U.S. political system makes it impossible to implement such a policy. On the same note, individuals and organizations argue against limiting consumers to government-provided insurance. Such a program would also involve significant personnel and physical infrastructure adjustments to accommodate universal healthcare.
Delayed access to health care services is one of the issues facing UHC. The government is the main stakeholder in the provision of UHC to the public. People are not required to make payments, or if they make, it is a small amount compared to the high cost of premiums and other costs in the present health care system in the U.S. Restricted spending on health care system results in the provision of low quality medical services, such as shortage of services. For instance, Pipes claims that more than 1 million patients in Canada's single-payer healthcare system waited for necessary medical treatment. UHC presents a challenge in timely administration of quality health care services. Also, a single-payer system, a form of UHC, results in scarcity of services, interruptions in elective treatments, and inhibits patients from making choices about their preferred health care services (Tanne). These adverse issues of UHC present a challenge in implementing it in the U.S.
The proposed Affordable Care Act (ACA) by Obama's administration targeted to expand health insurance coverage in the United States from 2016. The implementation of the ACA would assist the U.S. in achieving the UHC for the high number of uninsured citizens. For instance, the implementation of the ACA in 2016 would ensure a decrease in the number of uninsured residents from 56 million to 21 million (Rice et al.). The ACA would assist in expanding Medicaid in the U.S. to assist in the achievement of UHC. However, the ACA that was supposed to assist in the achievement of UHC adversely affected the health insurance coverage. For example, Rice et al. claim that insurance companies put in place hefty cost-sharing requirements. The impact of this move resulted in insurers lowering their rates, avoiding high-cost health providers. Therefore, the achievement of UHC in the U.S. remains a challenge to accessing quality health care services.
UHC is a significant element in the health sector of any country, and it contributes to equality in attaining quality and affordable health services. The changes characterized by UHC include the expansion of access to health care. However, the financial costs associated with UHC present a challenge in the achievement of affordable health care. Bloom et al. claim that developed countries striving to implement UHC face financial constraints because of the rising costs of modern health care technologies. The U.S. is not an exception among the developed countries in implementing UHC for its citizens. The high cost of technologies required to assist the increasing population to be covered in UHC presents a problem for the federal, state, and local governments. Thus, financial constraints remain a challenge in the achievement of UHC in the U.S.
The implementation of UHC in the U.S. health care system requires massive changes in different health levels. Geographically, the U.S. is a massive and diverse country that other developed nations that have implemented the UHC. Citizens in the U.S have different values, beliefs, and perception of religion and politics. Additionally, health sector is not an exception because different citizens have varying health needs and unique challenges (Zieff et al.). UHC implementation in the U.S. would not be feasible because different states have different views about the UHC. The realization of the UHC would be futile because UHC requires a comprehensive change in the health care system, such as technological and physical transformation. Different government levels such as the federal, state, and local would be forced to develop new ways of providing quality and affordable healthcare to the people. Thus, UHC faces challenges in the U.S. because of varying views and changes it will have on the people.
Implementing universal healthcare is critical toward ensuring equal access to services regardless of individuals' economic and social status. Healthcare is an essential component of a thriving economy. Individuals prioritize healthcare in the financial decisions, whether for themselves and their families. Like services such as education, health affects the entire economy, dictating the finances of individuals and families. In the United States and other parts of the world, healthcare forms an integral part of political debate. Countries such as Germany, the U.K., and China have made strides in realizing universal health coverage. The cost of healthcare in the U.S. has increased dramatically, and millions of Americans remain uninsured. Therefore, the government needs to implement universal health coverage.