Hey reader! This page is somewhat older than a newer version containing both the pros and cons. Feel free to read this post here and then check it out, or vice versa. Thanks for reading!
Welcome to day 2 of Universal Healthcare Week. Read yesterday’s post for an introduction and then come back here to see why we should have universal healthcare.
Here we go…
The Declaration of Independence set the standard for governmental philosophy of the United States. We have rights, and we are born with those rights, and they cannot be taken away. It took the Constitution and a few amendments to define those rights and grant them to everyone, but in the 21st century we have it straightened out. Some of our fellow citizens will argue there is another right, the right for access to healthcare.
The United States is the only modern nation that does not have some form of universal healthcare. There is government backed healthcare but each program is specialized and in all only covers about 25% of the population (veterans, poor, elderly, etc). So what is the idea behind universal healthcare? Your taxpayer dollars provide health insurance. Instead of losing $500 out of your paycheck to an insurance company, it’s taken in the form of a tax. From there the government will purchase insurance for you. This is not to be confused with socialized medicine, where doctors and hospitals would be like teachers and public schools.
Proponents of universal healthcare are quick to point out some obvious advantages, the first being cheaper healthcare. A more highly regulated industry will keep costs down. The Canadian government can buy drugs in bulk form; economics (and Costco) tells us buying in bulk is cheaper per unit.
The Canadians also enjoy access to healthcare even if they are not currently employed. In the States, you lose your job, you lose your insurance. If you start your own company, you buy your own insurance. Another problem with US healthcare is the difficulty and expense of being insured with pre-existing conditions. My friend, at age 18, almost died due to a heart condition. She had a pace-maker inplanted and will need one for the rest of her life (she’s currently 22 and doing fine). There’s not a chance that she will ever pay less than twice what I pay for coverage. She would likely support universal healthcare.
Furthermore, the supporters of universal healthcare will say the average cost of coverage will go down across the board. This is based on a few observations. First, federal law dictates no one can be turned down care in emergency rooms. Someone has to pay for their treatment. These costs are passed on to those who can afford to pay. If everyone has coverage, that cost doesn’t pass to the rest of us. Second, healthcare is more expensive in our country because of our health problems. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer are big killers per capita compared to other industrialized countries. What the supporters are saying is, we have to pay more for coverage because we need it more. Insurance companies must charge more for the increased frequency in doctor visits. This leads into the final argument that cheaper healthcare and better access allows more preventative actions. Let’s say I’m an obese 13 year-old and my mother can’t afford coverage in the current system. With universal healthcare I’m covered and can get the preventative care that might save me from diabetes, heart disease, and other risks later in life. This saves me, and the insurance companies money because we won’t have to bare those costs.
Everyone gets coverage, costs go down, and health quality is up. So let’s get started on universal healthcare. Its not that simple, and you know that. We’ve only presented one side of the story. Too often we make judgments based on one perspective. To truly be an informed citizen one must understand both sides to an argument. Only then can one decide which viewpoint they support. Well enough with the babble then Philip, tell us what the downsides might be to universal healthcare. Check back tomorrow and I’ll tell you.