Probably the best argument for universal healthcare is the fact that there are over 45 million people in the United States who do not have health insurance. The best argument against it is the cost of insuring those 45 million people. There are many more arguments on both sides of the issue.
The cost of universal healthcare would be split among the population in the form of taxes, which may lead to more debate about tax loopholes and who is actually paying their fair share. Of course, everyone is already paying for universal healthcare in a manner of speaking, since it is technically illegal to refuse treatment to somebody for lack of insurance. In the end, the costs of treatments that are not paid for by the patient come back to everyone else in the form of higher medical costs and insurance premiums.
Whether you like the idea of universal healthcare often comes down to how much faith you have in the free market economy. Some would argue that the free market system in which U.S. healthcare providers now operate stimulates competition and encourages doctors and hospitals to improve their standard of care while keeping their costs in line. Opponents of the free market system would say that it is greed-based and causes health care institutions to care more about their bottom line than about their patients.
One of the great things about universal healthcare would be the simplification of the process. There would no longer be thousands of different insurance forms and questions about what is covered. This would also do away with duplicate paperwork and other things that waste resources and raise the administrative costs of healthcare.
The scary thing about universal healthcare is that it would be run by the government. This may make some people uneasy depending upon your view of the government. Proper checks and balances would need to be put in place to alleviate some of the fears associated with such a program.
If everyone had universal healthcare, there would be no cost barrier to getting preventative care or getting minor injuries and illnesses checked out immediately. The plus side of this is that many medical problems would be prevented or caught early, saving big treatment expenses down the line. The downside is that hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices could become clogged with people with minor ailments or seeking preventative care, raising costs and lengthening the waiting time for treatment.
What countries currently have universal healthcare?
There are many countries that already have some sort of universal healthcare including the United Kingdom, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Sweden, Brazil, Canada, China, Portugal, New Zealand, Japan, France and more.
Of course, the degree to which the universal healthcare system is successful and efficient varies greatly from country to country. What’s interesting to note is that the health care in Afghanistan and Iraq is actually provided by the United States through war funding, so the U.S. has practice in using a universal healthcare system.
Would universal healthcare raise the likelihood of malpractice lawsuits?
The prevailing logic is that universal healthcare would invite more malpractice lawsuits because the insurance company would essentially be the United States government. No entity on this continent has deeper pockets than the U.S. government, so lawyers would be salivating at the prospect of suing them. On the other hand, it is possible that the government would be more motivated to put legislation in place to limit frivolous lawsuits if the money that they would be saving would be government money.
What effect would universal healthcare have on prescription medications?
Like most of the other questions raised by the issue of universal healthcare, the answer is a bit of a double-edged sword. Universal healthcare would mean that every person in the country could theoretically get the prescription medicine they need. Such a widespread distribution of prescription drugs, however, could lead to scarcity of certain medication and more illegal distribution and reselling of prescription drugs (one of the fasted growing types of illegal drug use among adolescents).
One often-overlooked concern about prescription medication has to do with research and development. The government could mandate prescription drug prices, which would mean that prescription drug companies wouldn’t be able to charge enough to recoup the high costs of research and development on new medications. If that were the case, it would make more sense for drug manufacturers to put their focus on mass production of tried-and-true medications that have already been developed than to risk money on research and development.
Other countries already fix prices on prescription medications, so drug companies do not make back their research and development costs overseas when they export. Prescription drugs, by the way, are one of the biggest national products in America, so any negative changes to that industry could adversely affect the national economy.