Last Updated on March 9, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
What is Universal Health Care?
Universal healthcare is a system that provides health services to every citizen. Quality health services are provided to every citizen regardless of whether one can afford to pay or not. Whether it be annual check-ups, vaccinations or any emergency medical treatment, every service is free and aided through payroll taxes or general income taxes.
Out of the 33 developed countries, U.S is the only one that doesn’t have the provision of universal healthcare. Instead, there are other medical systems one can access such as the Medicaid, Medicare or the Department of Veterans Affairs which is only accessible if they pass certain criteria such as age or low income.
Without access to universal healthcare, citizens have to depend on private services which not only are expensive but also do not equalize services.
3 Types of Universal Health Care
Universal healthcare is divided into 3 types based on the type of service provided.
1. Socialized Medicine
Under this system, all the doctors and nurses are working under the government. Countries such as the U.K have this system which relatively costs less but the doctors have a limited range of treatments to choose from.
2. Single-Payer System
Even when the government provides health care services in a single-payer system, hospitals are considered private offices. This costs more than socialized medicine but people are left with numerous options of hospitals and service types to choose from.
The third solution is to allow private insurance companies that make sure everybody buys certain health insurance plans. This means that people can choose the higher quality of services, themselves, which makes this system extremely expensive.
Pros and Cons of Universal Health Care
With universal healthcare, one of the primary concerns is, obviously, the cost. These services come at great expenses. At the same time, it’s quality assurance is another issue. Will the doctors be able to treat every patient?
Will people stop caring about their health since there’ll be no financial incentive? Or can the government provide its funding? Let us take a further look at its advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Universal Health Care
1. The Economic Cost of Universal Health Care is Low
Universal healthcare lowers medical costs for the national economy. Basically, the doctors won’t have to negotiate deals with a myriad of health care services or suppliers. The cost price is in the hands of government authorities, meaning that medicines can be ordered in bulk at a reasonable price. Even though the doctors and nurses might get paid less, the patients receive a good service under similar pricing.
2. The Administrative Cost Lowers
Usually, with a private pay system, you’d have to pay a huge amount of money. The administrative bill gets expensive with every visit since they have to deal with multiple agencies. However, with universal healthcare, the doctors are associated with only one government agency, lowering the overall cost.
3. Unhealthy Competition is Removed
People are conscious about keeping themselves fit and healthy and thus, are ready to pay a huge amount of money to curb risks. Most health agencies know this and try to take as much advantage as possible.
Basically, you could say that those agencies are on a quest to earn unlimited money instead of focusing on providing equal service. Under a private pay system, visits to the doctor and medications, always, come with a hefty price tag. But in the case of universal healthcare, everybody works under one agency which is the government, eliminating any unhealthy competitions.
4. Universal Healthcare Helps Children
Having proper treatment and cautiousness since childhood is vital to reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Poor financial conditions have prevented thousands of children from regular checkups. But with universal healthcare, every child receives the proper treatment he or she requires. Risks of weight gain or any health issues in the future are reduced. Moreover, it impacts the child overall performance in the future, as well.
What are the Disadvantages of Universal Health Care?
1. The Quality of Service Might Degrade
With universal healthcare, healthcare becomes accessible to every citizen, meaning doctors get an increased number of visits. The doctors rush through each appointment in order to make time for every patient. At the same time, the compensation amount of doctors is low. The more patients they check, the more profit they gain. The doctors and nurses will solely target on increasing the number of appointments rather than good service.
2. Difficult to Get a Doctor’s Appointment
As the number of patients drastically increases, the doctor work under a tight schedule. So, the system of universal healthcare is forced to prioritize emergency situations. Suppose, you need any emergency surgery then the hospital will immediately make arrangements.
However, the problem is that with any other issues such as back pain or hip replacement, you might have to wait for months to even book an appointment with the doctor. In some countries, it’s normal to have to wait for 3 or 4 weeks for an appointment with the specialist.
3. Taken for Granted
Another problem is that people stop prioritizing their health. Simply because of access to basic healthcare people stop practicing preventive measures. Fewer people will keep active and follow a good diet. As a result, people will start having more health issues.
4. Universal Health Care is Expensive
Universal healthcare requires large funding from the government. For instance, some provinces of Canada use 40% of their budget on health care. A large amount of the government’s budget gets to spend on health instead of other infrastructures. Since it’s so expensive, the government might even have to cut its budget. There’ll be fewer manpower and patients might not get the best treatment.
To conclude, universal healthcare does make life easier by making health services accessible to everybody. But at the same time, the quality of service and treatment is put at risk, making one question if it’s worth it or not. This system is challenging to implement but if done right can create a healthier, happier and positive environment.