Universal Health Care

Do you know what universal health care is? How is it different from the affordable care act? Please scroll through the article and get to know everything about universal health care along with its definition, advantages, and disadvantages. 

Universal Health Care

What Is Universal Health Care?

Universal health care (UHC) is a general term that includes any action or strategy that a government takes to offer health care to as many people as possible. Some governments set minimum standards and regulations to do this, while others enforce programs covering the entire population. In any case, the ultimate objective is to provide health coverage for every citizen. 

What Are The Pros Of Universal Health Care?

Universal health care is a highly controversial topic. You need to learn about both the benefits and risks of this healthcare system before forming an opinion on any nation-wide policy, such as universal healthcare. Here are some of the most prominent benefits:

  • As the name suggests, everyone has health insurance and access to medical services. It also ensures that no one goes bankrupt with medical expenses.
  • On the federal level, universal health care reduces the medical costs for the national economy as the government regulates medications and services costs. That optimization trickles down to the healthcare specialists themselves, where they can lower administrative costs and employ less staff. It is because they are compelled to work with innumerable health care companies. 
  • It also helps equalize services with no hospitals or doctors being able to aim or cater to wealthier patients. It indicates that everyone receives the same care level, which finally leads to a healthier workforce and greater life expectancies. 
  • When an individual has universal health care right from birth, it can also contribute to a longer and healthier life and diminish societal inequality.

What Are The Cons Of Universal Health Care?

One commonly known disadvantage of universal health care is that healthcare services' overall variety and quality decreases. Other disadvantages include:

  • Universal health care is highly-priced. If a government is on a tight budget, it may ascertain that health care is taking money away from other crucial programs.
  • In a few countries with universal health care, patients notice long waiting times or even have to wait for months to be seen at all. Governments emphasize providing important and lifesaving health care and may overlook to cover rare disorders or non-emergency surgeries.

What Are The Types Of Universal Health Care?

Universal health care can be provided in the following three ways:

  • Socialized medicine: In this case, the government would own all the hospitals, and all the doctors and nurses would be government employees—one example of this system in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, or NHS. Over the years, it has proved to be one of the most cost-efficient systems. However, both doctors and patients have limited choices in the range of procedures and treatments available to them.
  • Single-payer system: The second alternative is to have a single-payer system like that of Canada. Under this system, the government offers health insurance to all, but hospitals and doctor’s offices still remain non-profits or private businesses. Patients have more choices over selecting doctors and hospitals, each having their own different approaches to care. However, it costs even more than socialized medicine.
  • Private insurance: Private insurance is the third system for providing universal health care. It allows private insurance companies but governs them and mandates that they purchase some kind of health insurance plan. Switzerland has organized health insurance, and the Affordable Care Act, which was passed in 2010, is an effort to construct a mandated health insurance system in the United States. Regulated health insurance systems sanction for the most consumer selection, but they are also the highest-priced.

What Countries Have Universal Health Care?

As of 2020, 32 out of 33 countries have universal health care. Moreover, there are several countries on every continent that provide universal health care. They include the following:

  • South America: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru
  • North and Central America: The Bahamas, Cuba, Costa Rica, Canada, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, United States
  • Africa: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Mauritius, Rwanda, South Africa, Seychelles, Tunisia
  • Europe: Austria, Belarus, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, France, Finland, Greece, Germany, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Moldova, Malta, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Romania, Spain, Serbia, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Ukraine
  • Asia: Australia, Bhutan, Georgia, Hong Kong, Israel, India, Maldives, Macau, People’s Republic of China, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan.
  • Oceania: Australia, New Zealand.

Also Read: Analysis Of Health Condition Of Women In The Middle East Countries

How Does the Healthcare System Work In The United States?

The United States basically works on a system of private healthcare, which is attributed to plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, that are controlled by the federal government. 

Several individual states provide their own variations of government health care. For example, MediCal is California’s state variant of Medicaid.

Despite the numerous varieties of available plans, the United States does not have universal health care coverage. While the Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare) tremendously increased the number of Americans with coverage, it is not a universal health care system.

The U.S. Healthcare: A Brief History

First of all, the U.S. never had a universal health care plan. 

  • The first influential efforts at developing national health care plans started around the early twentieth century with the Progressive Movement. In Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 battle for president on the Progressive Party line (sometimes also referred to as the Bull Moose Party), he supported sickness insurance that would be assured by state and federal governments. Roosevelt was conquered, and nothing much was done about national health care until the 1930s.
  • In the 1930s, a distant cousin of Theodore Roosevelt - Franklin Roosevelt - built several federal programs to set up a social safety net. Social security was the most significant of these programs, although Roosevelt was incapable of executing a national insurance plan. Harry Truman, his successor, also failed to implement universal health care in his fair deal of 1949.
  • During the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, a great breakthrough showed up who designed Medicare and Medicaid as alterations to the Social Security program in 1965. These programs are still in effect today.
  • At the turn of the 1990s, Bill Clinton made his own effort to implement universal health care under a program driven by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Following the pattern of Canadian and European plans, the initiative enticed much limelight but eventually failed.
  • Before introducing the Affordable care act in 2010, a significant percentage of Americans didn't have any life insurance and obtained their medical assistance from the emergency room, which is the least economical way of delivering healthcare services.
  • Affordable health care was proved to be very advantageous and provided many more Americans with insurance coverage, but the universal health care plan hasn’t yet been executed.

What Challenges Could The U.S. Face While Transitioning Towards UHC?

When a country tends to transition from privatized health care towards universal health care, the authoritative government usually faces the fear of change. 

The emergence of the affordable care act, which seemed to be a drastic change at that time, added comparatively little to the country’s overall health expenditure. Around 20 million people acquired coverage, but ensuring those people were fairly inexpensive because most of them were young. Insuring younger adults is much cheaper than insuring older people. Some challenges the U.S. could face while transitioning towards universal health care are as follows:

  • Many people living in the United States had insurance even before the affordable act came into existence.
  • The majority of retired people have insurance through Medicare.
  • The majority of working, upper, and middle-class Americans had insurance coverage through their respective employers. 
  • Those individuals at or below the poverty line were entitled to insurance through Medicaid.

People who had health insurance through their employers were concerned if universal health care would be as great as the existing one. Making significant changes to any public policy, including health insurance, is an arduous task as it cultivates a fear of change among people. The affordable care act brought the United States one step closer to the Universal health coverage but left millions uninsured.