Should the Federal Government Provide Health Care for All Citizens Who Cannot Afford Their Own

Health care is not a privilege. In fact, a good level and quality on healthcare should be an inalienable right for all people. Social class, status or economic situation shouldn’t dictate who live and enjoy of good health or who doesn’t. Healthcare in America should be universal, continuous, and affordable to all individuals and families. Although some of the states in the US are taking unilateral measures not to focus exclusively on the poor, but seeks to guarantee health access to any uninsured people, achieving universal coverage will require federal leadership and support, regardless of which strategy is adopted to achieve this goal.

The president and Congress should strive to achieve universal health coverage in the United States by 2010, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. The escalating costs of the current situation call for prompt action, the report says. And the question of how much responsibility the U. S. government should take for the health care of its citizens is a controversial one. “For those who can afford it we have the best health-care system in the world..

However, the United states is the only major industrialized country that does not guarantee every citizen, regardless of income, access to affordable health care. ” (Kerry, 123) And for middle-class families which include the gross of US population, the problem is even worst since they don’t qualify for any kind of public-assistance programs. . Consequences of Lack of Universal Healthcare: The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in its report documents the consequences of lack of health insurance. Among the findings, these reports noted that:

1. Uninsured Americans get about half the medical care of those with health insurance. As a result, they tend to be sicker and to die sooner 2. About 18,000 unnecessary deaths occur each year because of lack of health insurance. 3. Only half of uninsured children visited a physician during 2001, compared with three-quarters of insured children. Lack of regular care can result in more expensive care for preventable or treatable conditions, and disruptions in learning and development. 4. When even one family member is uninsured, the entire family is at risk for the financial consequences of a catastrophic illness or injury.

5. Tax dollars paid for an estimated 85 percent of the roughly $35 billion in un- reimbursed medical care for the uninsured in 2008. 6. The burden of uncompensated care has been a factor in the closure of some hospitals and the unavailability of services in others. Disruptions in service can affect all who are served by a facility, even those who have health insurance. 7. The United States loses the equivalent of $65 billion to $130 billion annually as a result of the poor health and early deaths of uninsured adults. The current U. S. system of federal healthcare came into being in 1965 through Congress’s amendment of the Social Security Act and the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare began as a national health insurance program for persons age 65 and over, regardless of income or wealth. In 1973, coverage was extended for those on disability for at least two consecutive years. Medicare provides enrollees with a basic program of hospital insurance and supplementary assistance program to aid in paying healthcare bills (Raffel, 221).

Through this, everyone who is old enough receives some healthcare. Medicaid is also a national health insurance program, but it is administered by states and it can potentially assist a broader range of people than Medicare. The program serves to provide services for the “categorically needy,” such as those who are blind, aged, or disabled, and for the “medically needy,” those who can afford to live, but cannot afford to pay for medical care. Specific coverage and benefit details vary from state to state (Raffel, 224).

This is intended to help people with high medical costs that are not old enough for Medicare. Although Medicaid may sound generous, the program has many narrowing limitations. Numerous restrictions prevent the program from being offered to everyone who is poor and cannot afford medical care. Eligibility for the program is not based on need alone, but is also affected by age, family status, and medical condition. Beyond the federal programs Medicare and Medicaid, inhabitants of the United States must look to private organizations to provide their healthcare.

People may enroll in these independent health insurance plans through their employer or on their own if they can pay for it. Financial burdens greatly limit the system’s accessibility; however, many in the U. S. are unable to fully utilize either option. Census estimates from 1999 indicate that 43 million Americans live without health insurance even though 75 percent of them have a full-time job or live in a household with at least one member working full-time (Mueller, , 5) In addition to the totally uninsured, census estimates also reveal that approximately 42 million other people in the U.

S. are underinsured. This means that they have some insurance, but are still unable to afford all of their needed prescriptions, tests, visits to physicians, or hospital bills (20). By allowing so many of its residents to go inadequately insured, the U. S. model presents healthcare as a privilege for the wealthy, not as a right to which all people have access. The private market healthcare system in which many Americans pride themselves is clearly inefficient and has a huge effect on making healthcare so expensive.

Money is not being collected simply to cover costs; however, healthcare has become the largest industry in every developed nation. U. S. revenues totaled $1,077. 1 billion in 1998 ( Mueller, 2) Known as the “Gang of Four,” health maintenance organizations (HMOs), pharmaceutical companies, for-profit hospitals, and insurance providers use their sizable finances to exercise considerable clout (Le Bow, 170). Huge political campaign contributions give the healthcare industry significant lobbying power in national healthcare policy.

This power prevents the implementation of many restrictive regulations and allows the healthcare industry to continue high prices and money-making practices. One of the current universal healthcare models that has been in place the longest is the British program. Established in 1948 with the motto of “free health care for all” (Strosberg, 221), the British National Health Service (BNHS) was set up to replace the previous inefficient market healthcare system. The British Labor government took complete control of British health insurance funds, clinics, and hospitals and began administering healthcare.

Over the years, the BNHS has experienced its share of crises, most notably in the 1951 decision to require a fee for dentistry, drugs, and eyeglasses (Strosberg, 210), but the program has continued to effectively support the British people. Citizens’ feelings about the plan have been growing increasingly positive in recent years with fewer calls for restructuring. Possibility of Universal Healthcare in the United States On the national level, a bill currently being reviewed in Congress could create a new American health insurance program with a single payer system.

The bill would expand the current Medicare system to include all U. S. residents under publicly financed, privately delivered healthcare. Patients would be allowed their choice of physicians and hospitals and would receive coverage for a wide range of medical services including primary care, prescription drugs, and mental health services (“Bill Summary,” 2008, sc. 1). The system would obviously alleviate the problem of residents without healthcare and could be designed to function most effectively throughout the United States.

Although such a national proposal may seem unreasonably ambitious, it is actually surprisingly feasible. Barlett and Steele (2004) suggest that Medicare is an excellent model from which to begin because its centralized nature and low administrative costs make it far more efficient than any other health-insurance programs in the U. S (50). Costs can be lower with Medicare because 97 to 98 cents of every Medicare dollar goes to health care providers, while only 85 cents of every dollar in the private health sector makes it to providers (LeBow, 137). Providing healthcare for all U.

S. residents would obviously be a significant cost for the government, but the sponsors of HR676 believe that the $200 billion saved through bulk purchasing and reduced paper work with a single-payer system would easily cover the added expenses (“Bill Summary,” 2008, sc. 1). Even if the savings were unable to completely cover the costs, it certainly would not increase them for the public receiving care. American Reservations regarding Universal Healthcare The United States government has tried over the years to limit Medicare and Medicaid expenditure growth using various means.

Many think the United States is currently engaged in a risky, radical, indeed suicidal behavior with its policies connected with Medicare, Medicaid, and the rest of the healthcare system. Some think that all these factors are driving the country to fiscal, financial, and economic ruin. Historically, the federal government spending on Medicare and Medicaid on the elderly has been reckless. “One administration after another, has allowed these programs to grow much faster than the economy, while financing this growth on a pay-and-receive basis with the young paying and the old receiving.

But when each cohort of young reaches old age, it’s payback time. ” (Kotlikoff, 2) Americans are still fearful of a universal healthcare system. A 2006-2007 poll by the Common Wealth Fund indicates that a large majority of Americans continue to reject the idea of state-run, universal medicine. Despite some degree of openness to the idea of universal healthcare, many people display a strong negative reaction to the policy name due to an ingrained rejection of anything apparently linked to “socialism. A universal model of healthcare, however, does not demand giving up personal freedoms and turning to a communist form of government. This can include a wide range of specific program details spanning from complete government operation of medical facilities to nothing more than a national health insurance plan. Some Americans seem to expect the quality of their healthcare to decrease and fear that long waiting lines, a lack of specialized care, and rationing will accompany universal healthcare.

These concerns ignore the potential variations on such a system and the possibility for continued private healthcare options amidst a universal model. As Barlett and Steele (2004) point out, even if a government-supported universal system was implemented in the U. S. , wealthier citizens could still be free to supplement their basic coverage with additional private insurance (53). Conclusion Lack of health insurance in the United States is a critical problem that can and should be eliminated. The absence of universal healthcare is one of the greatest social inequities in our society.

As the American people continue to call for healthcare reform, a universal model should be the goal. A universal healthcare plan in the U. S. could be designed to allow people their personal choice of physicians and hospitals and make quality healthcare affordable for everyone without overbearing government involvement. The countless major problems with the current state of healthcare in the U. S. put it past the point of mending and demand a significant overhaul. Universal Healthcare has proven its remarkable effectiveness in other nations, and it has tremendous potential for the U. S.

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