Universal Health Care

With the 2008 presidential election less than a year away universal health care is the topic of many debates and a very important issue on the minds of all Americans. I believe the United States should

institute universal health care because of the large number of un/under insured people that have their lives ruined because they can’t afford to pay for their doctor/hospital bills, the number of people who are refused care all around America because they don’t have insurance and the success of the universal health care system in countries all over the world.

Universal health care consists of government programs intended to make sure that all citizens have access to health care. In this system patients pay for some portion of their care directly but most care is paid for by taxpayers and/or by compulsory health insurance which provides automatic coverage for every citizen. The United States is presently the only industrialized, wealthy country that does not provide universal health care for its’ citizens and current estimates state that 15% of the United States’ GDP is a result of health care spending although sixty four percent of adults are under insured or have no insurance period. According to a 2007 study done by the Kaiser Family Foundation the cost of health care premiums is increasing much faster than the general rate of inflation or employee wages. Since 2001, premiums for family coverage have increased 78%, while inflation has risen 17% and wages have risen 19%. So it is obvious a problem exists.

Every year in America average people are forced to battle their sicknesses without any hospitalization or care from nurses or doctors. People just like you and I have nowhere to turn whenever they cannot afford to pay for insurance or are underinsured and have to mortgage their homes etc. to pay for their outrageously high doctor bills.“ It’s wrong when businesses have to layoff one employee because they can’t afford the health care of another. Wrong when a parent cannot take a sick child to the doctor because they cannot afford the bill that comes with it. Wrong when 46 million Americans have no health care at all. In a country that spends more on health care than any other nation on Earth, it’s just wrong.” (Barack Obama). The words of Barack Obama are devastatingly sad but true, Doug M. a subscriber to the Michael Moore website and insured by Blue Cross, gives a clear example of what Americans are faced with on a daily basis “ I’ve had a nightmare dealing with Empire Blue Cross. I received services from an out-of-network provider believing that Empire would cover a portion of my 3k bill only to have them deny coverage in its entirety. This is completely outrageous — I told them that all I wanted in return was whatever sum they would have provided the in-network provider whether it is $20 or $100. The response I got from the representative was almost gleeful: “nope, no can do.” I am now faced with the decision to continue these services at my financial peril or discontinue them at the risk of endangering my health”. (Doug M.) The citizen of a wealthy country such as America should not be forced into making such decisions. On the other hand it is ridiculous that hundreds of people per day are stuck making choices of whether to get care they cannot afford or be in bad health that in some instances may be life threatening.

Another defect in the health care system used by the United States is the fact that people paying money to insurance companies or health care providers are charged higher rates based on their individual “risk factor”. Before any person gets health insurance in the United States they have to undergo process of risk assessment. A person’s “risk factor” is dependent on many things such as age, race, sex, disabilities and genetics. After the assessment the person receives an insurance rate which is increased according on the amount of risk the person is considered to be. However, under a publicly funded health care system people receive the same level of medical coverage regardless of their ability to pay.
I believe the effect of universal health care on people’s lives as a whole would be beneficial. The United States’ life expectancy is rated a pathetic 38th in the world. With all the money going into the medical field and all of the medical advancements that have been introduced over the past decade it is hard to believe people in countries such as Spain, Israel and Iceland outlive Americans. The infant mortality rate for the United States is about five per one thousand births, the same as countries such as Poland and Slovakia, which is pitiful. Our nation’s infant mortality rate resembles that of a developing country more than an industrialized world power.

Doctors and pharmaceutical companies are excessively paid under the present day health care system in the United States and if universal health care was implemented then their earnings could be reduced to a more reasonable amount. On average doctors in the United States are paid about two hundred thousand dollars annually and CVS alone is a seventy five billion dollar pharmaceutical powerhouse. In my opinion I don’t think that necessities such as receiving hospital care and getting prescriptions filled should be such a profit-oriented business. People have no choice but to pay the outrageous prices at the hospital and at the pharmaceutical companies across America because they have to be in good health to work. Also under the current health care system it is virtually impossible for individuals that have no insurance or bad coverage to cope with the asinine prices on a monthly basis. As a result of this hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against pharmaceutical companies accused of inflating drug prices to reap greater profits. In 2005 nearly 50 companies were named in the consumer fraud lawsuit filed by attorney general Lisa Madigan and I believe that is unacceptable and sinister for the CEO’s of these drug companies nationwide to inflate prices on medicine that is a required for people to live and function on a daily basis.

After seeing all of the problems that our health care system contains the government of the United States of America should take responsibility and action in developing a change that would provide a better system for the American people. The United States is the only country of its kind with such an obsolete health care system, people in the government should observe the numerous other countries that are successfully living under a universal health care system. It is inevitable that the Universal health care system would work when you take into account it’s success in industrialized countries such as Canada, France, United Kingdom, and Japan. Since 1984 Canada has been providing universal health care for its citizens and over 95% of Canadian hospitals are operated as private non-profit entities run by community boards of trustees or voluntary organizations. Canadians do not have to fill out any forms, pay co-payments or pay any deductibles and are provided supplementary health benefits such as vision care and prescription drugs. Canadians have one of the highest life expectancies of all industrialized countries and the lowest infant-mortality rate in the world. People in the United Kingdom receive a right to health care, everyone with an address registers with a general practitioner who determines an individuals need for treatment after his/her examinations and the people receive care based on their general practitioner’s opinion. The French health care system has been in use for over one hundred years and was named “the best health system in the world” by the world health organization in June of 2000. The evidence of the success of the French health care system is found in the general health of the French population. On average the life expectancy of French citizens increases more than three months every year and French women have the second highest life expectancy rate in the world. For over 96% of the French population medical care is either entirely free or completely reimbursed by the government. Citizens of France are also allowed to choose their health care provider regardless of their annual salaries. Under the universal health care plan in France the citizens have the ability to consult with a variety of doctors and specialists from different hospitals or choose from a public, private or university based hospital. Also long waiting lists which are often the blunt of much criticism when discussing universal health care do not exist in France. The universal health care plan of the Japanese, established in 1961, has also been very successful and is credited with helping the Japanese achieve the longest life expectancy in the world as well as one of the lowest infant-mortality rates. Under their unique system the Japanese are required to join health insurance plans depending on their occupation. Farmers and the self-employed join health insurance plans managed by their local government while workers earning salaries are insured by the central government.

The first step to enable universal health care to be implemented in the United States of America is to elect a presidential candidate that realizes the great importance of the universal health care system. In the 2008 presidential election there are several candidates for supporting universal health care, each offering their own unique plans, we just need to elect one with an effective plan that will fit the needs of the entire country. Hillary Clinton proposes a plan that puts the consumer in the driver’s seat with a choice to pick from a variety of plans that fit the individual’s needs. The three components to her plan are affordability, availability and reliability. She intends to enact a plan that ensure working families will never have to pay more than a limited percentage of their income on health care. The plan also states that insurance companies can’t deny you coverage because of pre-existing conditions and if you change or lose your job you are able to keep the same health care plan.

John Edwards proposes a plan that will make health care affordable by creating new tax credits, reforming insurance laws and offer affordable high-quality health plan choices for every American. One of most avid supporters of implementing a universal health care plan in the United States is Barack Obama, he believes that health care is a right and intends to give America that right if elected. “I…believe that every American has the right to affordable health care. I believe that the millions of Americans who can’t take their children to a doctor when they get sick have that right…We now face an opportunity – and an obligation – to turn the page on the failed politics of yesterday’s health care debates. It’s time to bring together businesses, the medical community, and members of both parties around a comprehensive solution to this crisis, and it’s time to let the drug and insurance industries know that while they’ll get a seat at the table, they don’t get to buy every chair”(Barack Obama). Obama intends to give the American citizens this right the health care through a simple three-step process. Provide affordable, comprehensive and portable health coverage for every American; Modernize the U.S. health care system to contain spiraling health care costs, improve the quality of patient care; and Promote prevention and strengthen public health to prevent disease and protect against natural and man-made disasters.

I feel that something needs to be done to help the millions of uninsured and under insured people in the United States. I believe that universal health care is the answer for these millions of people who cannot afford to pay for medicine that is required for them to live and the millions who cannot afford to take their sick children to the doctor. There are endless reasons why I believe the United States of America should implement universal health care and I that is why I feel that it is a top priority for any 2008 presidential candidate because they are the first step and only hope for change to be brought about in America.