Category Archives: Policies

What Are the Benefits of a Universal Health Care System?

 
What Are the Benefits of a Universal Health Care System?

I wrote this article last June and just read a piece in National Geographic regarding the cost of health care.  Gerard Anderson, professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, states that our fee-for-service system may cause treatment that does not necessarily improve patient health and lack of insurance leads to 45,000 unnecessary deaths/year.  The result:  The United States’ life expectancy is shorter than most developed nations, while its cost per capita for health care is markedly higher. 

 

A universal health care system provides health care benefits to every citizen of the nation. The United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and Canada employ universal health care systems funded by government-mandated or government-run programs. However, these systems differ in health care organizational structure, cost control and how providers are paid. In Canada, for example, every Canadian pays into the health tax system and every Canadian benefits regardless of socioeconomic standing or age. Canadians cannot opt for private insurance, while citizens of the United Kingdom may take advantage of private insurance. Universal health care financing offers many advantages.

Unlimited Access to Healthcare

The United States stands as the single industrialized nation whose citizens are not guaranteed the right to health care, resulting in 45 million uninsured individuals. The current health care system is structured on an individual’s ability to pay and preexisting conditions may preclude insurance coverage. According to Physicians for a National Health Care Program, “The U.S. spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on health care, $8,160 per capita,” supporting the misperception the United States has the best health care system. Healthcare IT News states a Commonwealth Fund report found out of seven industrialized countries, the United States ranks at the bottom in five areas of health care performance.

 

Increased Efficiency and Decreased Medical Errors

The current health care system is drowning in a sea of paperwork when every office visit for every patient means filling out more paperwork with repetitive and sometimes erroneous information. Subsequently, health care organizations and insurance companies are inundated with mounds of forms and records. A universal health care system automates and standardizes medical records, which can be accessed by all participating entities. Fully integrated electronic medical records contain complete and accurate patient information and rid health care organizations of walls of paper files. Good information leads to better decision-making by physicians, decreasing medical errors and the practice of defensive medicine to avoid malpractice suits.

Affordable Health Care

Health care premiums continue to climb disproportionately to economic growth, making health insurance unaffordable for small businesses and individuals. Businesses offering health care plans pass on much of the cost to its employees, many of whom are opting not to pay for coverage. Although many clinics offer health care services to indigent patients, the remaining system absorbs that cost, which boosts health care premiums. Since universal health care is typically managed by a government agency on a single payer system, administrative costs plummet, resulting in affordable or free health care to every American.

 

Photo Credit

healthcare concept image by Stasys Eidiejus from Fotolia.com

Julie Sykora

Julie Sykora