The notion of universal health care represents a system which offers good quality medical services to every citizen of the country. Simply put, if you live in a developed country and get sick, the country itself will offer you the proper medical care regardless of your income or other financial aspects.
Even though the well-known Obamacare program is similar in many ways to universal health care (or ‘Medicare for all,’ as it is called), it is not, and the two shouldn’t be mistaken.
Adopting and maintaining universal health care that actually offers high-quality services implies major costs for governments. Most of the times, the funds necessary come from general income taxes or payroll taxes. Although Obama care may have been a generally good option, it had way too many exceptions to be considered universal health care.
Out of the 33 developed countries, 32 have universal health care. They adopt one of the following three models. Twelve of these countries have a single-payer system, which means that every citizen has to pay taxes for health care (such as the U.K.). Other six countries require everyone to buy insurance, which is called an insurance mandate.
As for the remaining countries, they have a combined approach on covering costs. The government taxes its citizens to pay for basic government health services. Citizens can also opt for better services with supplemental private insurance. One of these countries, for instance, is France.
The U.S. is made of a mix between government-run and private insurance. In other words, the government pays for most costs, but it also subsidizes private health care insurance.
Right now, 15% of U.S. citizens older than 65 years receive Medicare, while 60% of all citizens get private insurance from their employers.
The federal government also funds Medicaid for low-income families and CHIP for children. It pays for veterans, Congress, and federal employees. Despite all this, there are 28 million Americans who have no coverage. They either are exempt from the Obamacare mandate or can’t afford insurance.
So why does the U.S. have such high costs and offers such low medical quality services?
Well, for starters, most patients don’t pay for their medical services – which means that they can’t price-shop doctors and hospital procedures either. The government can negotiate lower prices for those covered by Medicare and Medicaid. But competing health insurance companies don’t have the same leverage.
Giving up on the actual system would also leave insurance and drug companies unpleased, as they want to maintain their status-quo. Even so, 60% of Americans declared that they want Medicare for all.
What do you think is the best option for U.S. citizens? Comment below!