The millions of currently uninsured, cite prohibitive cost 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.
Studies find that most Americans are ready for and would like to have a single-payer health care system which would provide insurance for the majority of those who currently lack insurance. In fact, there is a sentiment that many share, which is: Adequate health care a right of Americans.
In 2017 a report by the Pew Research Center shows that sixty percent 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.
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 at a tidy sum. Estimates vary on what such sweeping changes would cost. Bernie’s proposal would have been funded by a 2.2 percent individual tax increase and 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 – 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 a great overview of the components to be considered in funding such a plan.
The Tax Policy Center cites that 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 twenty percent 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 five percent would pay on the 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. 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 big 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 carefully consider that. Both sides, proponents, and opponents have a lot to digest when considering the true cost of Universal Health Care. Although the idea of Universal Care is definitely popular, we are still a long way from that being a serious consideration apparently. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders presidential campaigns rallied heavily to make this a reality. We all know how that turned out.
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