As Obamacare premiums continue to rise, more Americans are talking about something called universal health care (abbreviated as UHC). This concept has been implemented in more than 50 countries around the world. But what is this system, and how does it differ from the American model? Today, we’re going to explore this topic and dive into the details.
What Is UHC Exactly?
According to the World Health Organization, UHC provides “promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services” to citizens and legal residents of a given country. This means they can go to the doctor’s office without having to pay a hefty bill at the end of their visit.
Here’s a list of countries that have UHC, according to Nasdaq:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
How can these countries afford universal health care? Well, several nations, including Canada and France, fund their programs by collecting money through income taxes based on a stratified system. This means high-income earners pay more compared to low-income individuals.
Obamacare Is Not The Same As Universal Health Care
When the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, many Americans thought this was President Obama’s idea of implementing UHC. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As the name of the bill suggests, the objective of the ACA was to provide Americans access to affordable health insurance plans. It also put an end to discriminatory practices that insurance companies employed against those with pre-existing conditions. The ACA, however, does not provide universal health coverage to all Americans, which is why the US is not on the list above.
Will The US Ever Implement Universal Health Care?
It’s quite unlikely. Most Americans view universal health care as a product of Western European socialism. According to an article in The Conversation, Americans “have a strong belief in classical liberalism and the idea that the government should play a limited role in society.”
Last fall, Senator Bernie Sanders unveiled a plan that would introduce UHC under a single system to nearly 323 million Americans. The bill also had the backing of 15 Democrats, yet faced staunch opposition from fellow politicians and the media, proving the country isn’t ready to accept this concept.
Though studies find that most Americans are ready for and would like to have a single-payer health care system that would provide insurance for the majority of those who currently lack coverage, there is a sentiment that many shares, which is: Adequate health care a right of Americans.
In 2017 a report by the Pew Research Center showed that 6% of Americans feel that the government has the responsibility of providing health care for all its citizens. That percentage of those in favor of Universal Health Care is the highest it has been in the last ten years.
Whether you’re for or against UHC, we must continue to talk about the issue of affordable health coverage in this country. If you’re looking to purchase a plan or have any questions, feel free to contact one of our agents at 844-903-3494 or visit our website.
How Much Would Universal Health Care Cost?
The millions of currently uninsured, cite prohibitive costs as the primary reason they choose to go uninsured. Reports indicate that in 2016, the per capita expenditure for health insurance in the United States was $9,892 – The highest in the world. It is worthy of notice that other leading industrialized countries such as Germany, France, The UK, and Canada spend about half as much as Americans do on health care.
Why is health care so expensive? It is no secret that health providers, physicians, doctors, internists, etc. as well as the facilities in which care is provided, are among the most expensive worldwide.
During his presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders’ campaign promised a “Revolution,” which centered, to a great extent, around fixing the current health care system at the time. His message resonated with millions who support the single-payer health care system, and awareness for this concept was heightened.
This revolution, however, would potentially cost a tidy sum. Estimates vary on what such sweeping changes would cost. Bernie’s proposal would have been funded by a 2.2% individual tax increase and a 6.7% payroll tax applied to all employers.
A report by Decision Date cites the estimated cost of Universal Healthcare to be between three hundred billion to over fifteen trillion. This was strictly speculative. The reality is that estimating the cost of Universal Health Care is a complex process due to its many variables.
Gerald Friedman, Ph.D. a Professor at the Department of Economics – the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, published a report on the Physicians For A National Health Plan (PNHP) website. The report details the Funding of “HR 676: The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act,” which gives an excellent overview of the components to be considered in funding such a plan.
The Tax Policy Center cites that the cost of Universal Health such as the one proposed by Bernie Sanders would be borne by taxpayers but would offer different returns for those at different income levels. Those earning at the bottom 20% would only pay about $209 in additional taxes and in exchange, receive over ten thousand dollars in benefit.
A definite win for the bottom 95% of earners. High-income earners, however, would not fare as well. Those in the top 5% would pay on average an additional $130,275 in taxes and only receive $19,281in benefits. This doesn’t pencil out well for everyone as we can see.
The cost of Universal Health Care needs to take into consideration other downsides.
How Would Universal Health Care Change Medicare For Americans?
Let’s consider how Medicare currently works. Those that are under the system understand its limitations well. That is the reason many choose to go with either Medicare supplement insurance or Medicare advantage programs. Under the strict Medicare program, there are significant gaps in coverage that Medicare recipients have to deal with. Would a single-payer, government-controlled system be faced with the same limitations, especially considering the scale of such reform?
Consider also the impact on the quality of care. Imagine the outcome when a hospital, which is accustomed to providing top-tier care, and charges accordingly, suddenly is faced with the fact that they now will only be paid 50% of what they usually charge.
Likewise, top-grade specialists who pride themselves in providing the best care in the world, which is the case in America currently, see their income cut in half. The incentive for an institution or the individual to excel and become the best that money can buy would disappear for the most part.
America needs to consider that carefully. Both sides, proponents, and opponents have a lot to digest when considering the actual cost of Universal Health Care. Although the idea of Universal Care is popular, we are still a long way from that being a serious consideration. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sander’s presidential campaigns rallied heavily to make this a reality. We all know how that turned out.