Universal Healthcare Provides Americans the Security and Safety They Need in Uncertain Times
Universal healthcare provides American citizens with the security and safety they need during these uncertain times. Because people do not have to pay out of pocket for health services, they are less likely to fall into poverty. Without health insurance, an unexpected illness can put a family in an impossible financial situation. They may be forced to borrow or sell their property in order to survive, which can devastate their future and that of their children.
Critics of universal coverage
Critics of universal coverage point to the complexities of such programs. Many economic variables are at play, technologies are rapidly developing, and political factors are at play. While the benefits of universal coverage are unquestionable, critics argue that there is too much uncertainty about the costs of such plans. Moreover, many states have tried to implement such programs, but the results have been less than stellar. In some cases, the policies have reduced coverage and eligibility.
Ultimately, however, universal coverage will not be a disaster if everyone is covered. It will improve the health of Americans and strengthen the work force, which are two of the most important aspects of a society. Moreover, it will also improve the health care system.
Cost of health care in the United States
In 2001, personal health care expenditures were $1.236 trillion. Of this amount, $99 billion went to care for 62 million people who were uninsured. Of this, $22.3 billion went to private insurance and the remaining $13.8 billion went to public coverage. In other words, the uninsured were spending much more on health care than the insured.
This variation in health care spending is indicative of a policy problem, and the solution depends on what is causing the variation. For instance, there may be differences in physician behavior and higher costs of living in some areas. Or, it could simply be that health care costs are higher in a particular area because of insufficient competition or other factors.
Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on access to health care
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on the global health system. In just nine months, the disease has reached over 190 countries and claimed the lives of over one million people. It has exposed long-ignored health risks and reinforced the value of strong public health systems. Moreover, it has highlighted the resilience of human populations. Therefore, the urgency for universal health coverage is greater than ever.
In the year prior to the outbreak, approximately 28 million adults were uninsured. After the epidemic, nine million more were uninsured. In addition, uninsured individuals are more likely to develop comorbid conditions and are likely to delay seeking care. These comorbidities compound the impact of the disease. Uninsured individuals are also at a higher risk of transmitting the virus to others.
Potential savings from a single-payer system
Some economists have speculated about how a single-payer healthcare system could reduce health care costs. One of the main reasons for this is that the government would not be required to pay for the services of private insurers. Using cost models, these economists have come up with a range of estimates of net savings for a single-payer healthcare system. These estimates include savings from reduced drug prices and standardized payment administration.
The largest savings would come from reduced costs in payment administration. In the US, for example, the burden of billing for healthcare is significantly higher than in Canada. This burden accounts for about twelve to fifteen percent of the total healthcare cost. Using a single payer model would allow the government to share the costs of administrative expenses with healthcare providers. The US is much higher than other countries when it comes to per capita spending on prescription drugs.