In this article, we discuss the elements commonly raised as part of the ongoing and current debate on healthcare in the United States. You may be surprised to learn that the US is different from the rest of the world when it comes to health care. We don’t have universal healthcare, but many other countries do. Let’s look at the arguments for and against universal healthcare, and present a balanced view for our audience. We also look at other countries and talk about how prosperous and healthy their citizens are, and whether or not they have healthcare. Keep an open mind, and try not to cling to your ideologies, from either left or right.
The United States
Healthcare in the United States is a highly politicized topic, with emotions running high on all sides. It is rarely reported on objectively in the media, or viewed with any sense of balance. Those who are against universal healthcare are usually presented as a group of greedy and heartless people, and those who are for universal healthcare are presented as a group of more (or less) well-meaning, but misguided, communists.
Neither stereotype is true of course, these are shadows, caricatures of “the other party”. In reality, there are solid arguments for and against universal health care, and it’s up to the people and the legislators to decide what is best for the country, solving the issues, and making compromises.
The argument against the government providing healthcare is that the government is often (though not always) ineffective at delivering quality services (think of your last visit to the DMV) and is also claimed to be inefficient with money. So the claim goes: pay more, get less. This is certainly a valid criticism of many federal government departments and even state or local government bureaucracies. It’s not a difficult thing to believe that the handling of healthcare will be a similar problem if left to the federal government. So that is a valid point. It will probably cost the taxpayer a lot, and the service will be slow and cumbersome. If private companies were to undertake healthcare delivery (as is currently the case), then you can be sure they will be efficient with capital.
On the other hand, on the “for” side of the argument, private companies may very efficiently use capital, however, their incentives may not align them with what is best for the patient or doctor. Additionally, just because many other government initiatives are slow or inefficient, the argument for universal health care suggests that now is the time to turn over a new leaf and show the world that the US can in fact build an efficient and enjoyable service that gives the people what they need. We need to show the world that fresh young people can join the government and make a difference. In addition, if there is a bulk order to be made for any reason (think, for example, something as simple as face masks), then it is far more cost-effective for the federal government to put in a few extremely large orders of face masks, rather than many small companies ordering their own face masks, each with varying quality and altogether paying a lot more for shipping and the profits of the producers of said masks.
One of the biggest arguments against universal healthcare is that it is unfair because everyone has to pay for it (via increased taxes), however, a small number of people will make excessive use of the public healthcare system. We are all paying for those few people who have made poor life or health choices, or so the argument goes. Take, for example, a long-time chain smoker develops who lung cancer (Surprise!), and then goes into a hospital for a lengthy and expensive stay, followed by surgery, and then a lengthy recovery, while all their bills are paid for by the taxpayer. Is this fair? Many would say no. Many would say; we don’t want to encourage people to gamble their health away in exchange for pleasure or money. We instead, want to treat them like adults, and allow them to feel the full responsibility of their health choices.
On the other hand, it is completely unfair that one person who is very ill (through no choice or fault of their own) has to deal with all the consequences of bad luck by themselves. Or so the argument goes. If you are born with a rare genetic condition, and there is no cure or way out, then shouldn’t the community around you spare a few dollars each to make your life livable? After all, many people voluntarily give a few dollars in coins to people sitting on the sidewalk (who spend it as they wish), every single year.
In many other countries, universal healthcare is the norm. In fact, in almost every other first-world country, there is universal healthcare. These countries include Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, and more. On the other hand, there are a few countries that do not have universal healthcare.
Why is it that the rest of the world is able to provide good, universal healthcare, but not the US? The rest of the world is not all that different from the US. They have similar traditions, similar goals, similar systems of government. And yet, I can walk into a hospital in Copenhagen, emergency room in Berlin, or dentist Brisbane and get what I need, at no, or very low cost. Are Danish teeth, German teeth, Australian teeth, and American teeth fundamentally different? I think not. Their health outcomes however, are hugely different.
The United States needs some kind of public health care, and while there are a lot of real, valid and difficult problems to be solved, we can’t allow this to hold back our great country, we cannot allow it to fall behind the rest of the world. We need to be at the forefront of this debate, and we need to find a solution that works for the people of the United States. We cannot let our pride stand in the way of saving lives.