Why We Need Universal Healthcare
Many would argue that here, in the United States, we have the best healthcare in the world. We benefit from the most up to date medical technologies, medications, and services. People come from every corner of the world to take advantage of our top notch physicians and facilities. But is this reputation warranted, and if so, at what cost? The average annual cost per US resident is $7,681; this comprises 16.2% of our gross domestic product. These costs rank us among the highest of industrialized nations (Lundy, 2010). Does this high expenditure equate to better outcomes? According to the National Scorecard on US Health System Performance (2008), the US received a 65 out of 100 possible points. Compared with 19 other industrialized nations, the US came in last place in preventable mortality. Preventable mortality means just that, deaths which could have been prevented if “timely and effective care” could have been provided (The Commonwealth Fund on a High Performance Health System, 2008). In 2000, the World Health Organization performed their first ever comparison of the health systems of the world. They reviewed 191 different countries and ranked them on numerous parameters, the United States ranked 37th for overall health system performance (WHO, 2000). Is it that our healthcare system is truly that poor, or is it that our care is only excellent for those patients who can actually afford it? A universal healthcare system would not only provide healthcare for all, it could also decrease our healthcare spending and potentially produce better health outcomes.
High quality and less expensive healthcare can be achieved with a universal healthcare model. In fact, the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have universal healthcare (Hohman, 2006). France, the United Kingdom, and Canada are but a few of the countries which view healthcare as a right, not a privilege. How can these nations afford healthcare for their people and maintain quality healthcare? Each country has a slightly different delivery model, but with the same results, healthcare guaranteed for every citizen.
The United Kingdom utilizes a national health service. This service is government owned and controlled. Most practitioners are employees of the government and hospitals are government run. Taxes provide nearly 80% of the funding for their health program. The remainders of the cost are covered by employee and employer contributions. Most providers and hospitals are public, although there is a small but growing private sector. The citizens of the United Kingdom pay nothing for visits to their physician or hospital stays. They also can choose which providers they want to visit and have “good access to primary care” (Hohman, 2006). The United Kingdom ranked number 18 in overall healthcare (WHO 2000) while spending only 8.4% of its gross domestic product (Kaiser EDU). In a recent poll, 79% of UK...