Research Plan and present academic essays, reports and reflections
Universal and Free Healthcare, Why or Why Not?
Health care for many people is something that is seen as unattainable, whether this is due to where they live, their financial income, race, gender or age (Burgess 2014, para. 9). According to a report from the World Bank and World Health Organization, at least half of the world’s population are unable to obtain essential health care services and almost 100 million people fall into poverty every year due to the high expenses of health care (World Health Organization 2017). However, there is a solution to this; Universal Health Coverage (UHC), it allows everyone, everywhere access to quality health care, without suffering financial hardship (World health Organization 2017, Amadeo 2018, para. 1). While many people believe that the current healthcare systems are sufficient, there are countless more that believe that it could be improved significantly and have shown that this could be the case. Health care should become universal and free for everyone. This will improve not only the quality of life citizens will have but will also improve the economy.
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The Commonwealth Fund based in New York conducted a survey in 2017 on the health care systems of eleven developed countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It was stated in the report that the U.S ranked last in this report, as they did the same in the 2014, 2010, 2007, 2006, and 2004 Mirror, Mirror report (The Commonwealth Fund 2014, p. 7). The U.S. health accessibility, efficiency and equity measures were found to be last or near-last on the report. Where as the U.K, who use a single-payer healthcare system, ranks first, with Australia’s mixed public-private system coming in second best (Smiley 2017, para. 2, The Commonwealth Fund 2017, p. 2). It was stated in the report that a major factor in the U.S. health system doing so inadequately was because of their lack of universal health coverage, if universal health coverage was introduced to the U.S. their health system would improve significantly. (Khazan 2014, para. 5). (See appendix 1)
If the U.S. was to implement UHC it would dramatically improve its health care system. Using the Commonwealth Fund’s interactive comparison chart the U.S. was compared to Australia’s health care system. It was shown that if the U.S. was to adopt Australia’s health care system the U.S. would spend $1.5 trillion fewer dollars on health care, 39 million more adults would see a doctor or nurse on the same or next day when they needed care. If the U.S. performed at Australia’s level 47 million fewer adults would go without care due to cost, and 25 million fewer adults would visit an emergency room. If the U.S. had the same rate as Australia 149,000 fewer preventable deaths would occur and 10,000 fewer infant deaths would occur (The Commonwealth Fund 2018). (See appendix 3). The U.S. health care system is the most expensive in the world but is considered inferior compared to others. Currently the U.S spends 17.7 percent gross domestic product (GDP) on health care where as in comparison Australia only spends 8.9 percent GDP (Khazan 2014, para. 7). (See Appendix 2). Previous to the implementation of Obamacare in the U.S. it was reported that 76 percent of patients visited the emergency room due to a lack of access and care from other providers, and 46 percent visited because there was no other place to go, their primary health care was the emergency room. This is a considerable reason for the rise in medical care costs. (Amadeo 2018, para. 13). To reduce these numbers and improve patient’s health the U.S. should enforce a universal and free health care system.
Universal health care is free health care (FHC) for everyone, everywhere, it provides quality medical services to all citizens, without discrimination. The Federal Government offers it to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. UHC is sustained in multiple way, the Government covers a large portion of the cost, it is also funded by general income tax and payroll tax, some countries require that everyone buy health insurance, whilst others depend on pre-payments. Many universal health care systems are funded by more than one method (Amadeo 2018, para. 3). In a majority of countries, the Government pays for health care provided by private companies. Some of these systems include Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE, which are used by Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Singapore, and Switzerland. The U.K. uses a system called socialized medicine or single-payer system, which means that there are no private insurance companies, the Government alone authorizes and pays for health benefits. The National Health Service (NHS) has complete authority over access to health care resources, and even enlists health care providers. (Torrey 2018, para. 5). Australia currently has a public-private health care system, the Government pays 2/3 for public health care through a private company called Medicare, which allows all citizens, including visiting students, asylum seekers and people on temporary visa’s access to free quality health care (Health Direct 2016, para. 17, Amadeo 2018, para. 27). This is possible because the Government subsidises and regulates the price of care and medications (Australian Government, 2018, para. 2). The other 1/3 of Australia’s health care system is payed by the private sector; private health insurance which is available for people who seek a higher quality of care, shorter wait times, and higher health security. The different universal health care systems help the citizens by providing free and accessible health care.
A minority of people are opposed to universal health care because they believe that it will make health care more expensive and less attainable, on the contrary, UHC has been shown to reduce the costs of health care, and lessen health expenditure significantly and improve the economy for many countries such as in Australia where it was shown above how much the U.S. would save if they adopted Australia’s public-private health care system. It was also shown that if the U.S. was to adopt Australia’s universal health care system, that 39 million more adults would have access to see a doctor or a nurse on the day needed for treatment.
Universal health care allows all citizens everywhere to experience a strong and efficient health care system, that includes preventative and curative medicine, affordable access to health systems and relevant medicine, and sufficient staffing for the health systems (Greer, SL, Méndez, CA 2015, para. 4). In citing the Commonwealth Funds report from 2017, it was found that the U.S. health care system ranked last out of 11 Countries that were surveyed. However, if the U.S. was to adopt Australia’s universal public-private health care system or even the U.K. single-payer health care system that their health care system would unquestionably improve. If the U.S. refuses to change their system and adapt a universal health care system there won’t be a reduction in mortality rates, and the cost of health care will continue to grow exponentially, making it even more difficult for citizens to attain health care.
- Amadeo, K 2018, ‘Universal Health Care in Different Countries, Pros and Cons of Each’, The Balance, viewed 27 October 2018, https://www.thebalance.com/universal-health-care-4156211
- Australian Government 2018, ‘The Australian Health System’, viewed 31 October 2018, https://beta.health.gov.au/about-us/the-australian-health-system
- Burgess, E 2014, ‘5 Reasons we all must have universal health coverage’, viewed 23 October 2018, https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/5-reasons-we-all-must-have-universal-health-covera/
- Greer, SL, Méndez, CA 2015, ‘Universal Health Coverage: A political Struggle and Governance Challenge’, American Public Health Association, viewed 01 November 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4627521/
- Health Direct 2016, ‘Australia’s Healthcare System’, viewed 31 October 2018, https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/australias-healthcare-system
- Khazan, O 2014, ‘U.S Healthcare: Most Expensive and Worst Performing’, viewed 24 October 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/us-healthcare-most-expensive-and-worst-performing/372828/
- Khazan, O 2014, ‘What if America Had Canada’s Healthcare System’, viewed 24 October 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/what-if-america-had-canadas-healthcare-system/381662/
- Papanicolas, I, Woskie, LR, Jha, AK 2018, ‘Health Care Spending in the United States and Other High-Income Countries’ Jama Network, 2018;319(10):1024–1039. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.1150
- Smiley, S 2017, ‘Healthcare study ranks Australia second best in developed world, while US comes in last’, viewed 18 October 2018, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-17/australian-healthcare-ranked-second-best-in-developed-world/8716326
- The Commonwealth Fund 2014, ‘Mirror, Mirror on the Wall’ How the Performance of the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally, viewed 18 October 2018, https://www.commonwealthfund.org/sites/default/files/documents/___media_files_publications_fund_report_2014_jun_1755_davis_mirror_mirror_2014.pdf
- The Commonwealth Fund 2017, ‘Mirror, Mirror 2017: International Comparison Reflects Flaws and Opportunities for U.S Health Care’ viewed 18 October 2018, https://interactives.commonwealthfund.org/2017/july/mirror-mirror/
- The Commonwealth Fund 2018, ‘What Would Happen If Healthcare in the U.S Improved?’ viewed 11 October 2018, http://tools.commonwealthfund.org/interactives-and-data/us-compare-interactive#?ind=1&compare=AUS
- Torrey, T 2018, ‘What You Should Know About Universal Health Care Coverage’, Very well Health, viewed 04 November 2018, https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-universal-healthcare-coverage-2615254
- World Health Organization 2017, ‘World Bank and WHO: Half the world lacks access to essential health services, 100 million still pushed into extreme poverty because of health expenses’, viewed 31 October 2018, http://www.who.int/news-room/detail/13-12-2017-world-bank-and-who-half-the-world-lacks-access-to-essential-health-services-100-million-still-pushed-into-extreme-poverty-because-of-health-expenses
- World Health Organization 2018, ‘What is a Free Health Care policy and how can it help move towards UHC?’, viewed 11 October 2018, http://www.who.int/health_financing/topics/free-health-care/whats-free-health-care/en/
- World Health Organization 2018, ‘What is the possible impact of FHC?’ viewed on 11 October 2018, http://www.who.int/health_financing/topics/free-health-care/possible-impact/en/
- 80,000 2016, ‘Health in poor countries’, viewed 18 October 2018, https://80000hours.org/problem-profiles/health-in-poor-countries/
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