Universal Health Care Would Not Be Beneficial for the Country
Free. That word instantly draws your attention and excites even when you think of it. Health care is much like every other industry, the word “free” always comes with an asterisk. I am currently employed at McDonough District Hospital and it is my goal to be the CEO of a hospital one day. Because of this, I want what is the best for not only the hospital itself but the patients that are taken care of; and it is a passion of mine to study how to make the health care industry better whenever I can.
According to Frank Newport, the editor-in-chief at Gallup in his November 2, 2018 for the Gallup website, health care is the most important political issue to the American public, ranked as important to 80% of Americans. Universal health care is a hotly debated topic; but overall, the United States moving to government-controlled health would not only be bad for Americans, but it would be bad for the rest of the world in general. Today, I will show you how the current US health system works very well, as well as how universal health care systems in other countries are not as much of a free and easy ride as you would believe and how much worse the quality and quantity of heath care and health insurance would become if the government were to be in total control of your body’s well-being.
The US health care system works very well and is beneficial for everyone around the globe. Our current health care system is a very good system that provides some of the best health care for Americans as it already is. The World Health Organization’s 2017 Global Health Observatory (GHO) reports how Americans’ mortality rates and life expectancy are among the highest in the world. According to the GHO, the USA’s infant and motherhood mortality rates are at 6.5 and 14 (per 1000 births) are the lowest of any region, respectively.
The closest is Europe at 9.6 and 16. The GHO also reports that Americans’ life expectancy is among the highest in the world, 79.25, with Europe again being the closest at 76.7. Many of America’s worst health problems come from our culture of eating, as I had mentioned in my previous speech about our obsession with fast food. As I had mentioned previously, there are direct causes between our eating habits and increases of cardiovascular disease.
Many of the statistics showing the US’ poor health care conditions often base themselves on the percentage of cardiovascular disease, but these eating habits are directly killing people younger and younger because of the fast food culture. Because of this obsession, this causes a sharp increase in deaths from these cardiovascular diseases. There is no magic cure for someone who eats Burger King three times a day and has a heart attack. Not only is the USA’s health care system good for Americans, it is also very good for people around the world, covering the costs for many of the countries with universal health care whose health systems would be unsustainable otherwise.
The United States is the number one leader in health care innovation in the world. In Keyhani MD, Wang MD, Helbert PhD, Carpenter PhD and Anderson PhD’s article in the 2010 June edition of the American Journal of Public Health, they found that 36.4% of pharmaceutical innovation came from the United States every year, nearly 4x that of the nearest country, the UK at 10.4%. The US also spends tens billions of dollars yearly to aid foreign health care systems. iv.
According to USAID, the State Department’s division that gives aid to foreign countries for development and health care, their own website reports that for the 2019FY their budget is $39.3 billion. (Transition): The US’ health system does provide great care, but obviously we are not at the #1 position for all measurements of health quality. However, if universal health care were truly better in every way, then the US would surely be at the bottom of every measure, if you were to listen to claims that the US is the only country in the world that does not have universal health care. Switching to this system would not only end the benefits of our current system, but we would also have to suffer from the negative consequences of health care for all.
Countries with universal health care are not as much better off than the United States than what is claimed. Though it is portrayed as being an American problem, the inequality of care continues even when health insurance is made public. Flato and Zhang, researchers for the Fafo Research Foundation, wrote in the International Journal for Equity in Health on June 22nd, 2016 about how health care was utilized in China before and after universalization.
Their article stated that the rich were still far more likely to receive care than the poor, and that they still sought care more often. They also had stated that health needs had become less important for determining care, stating that the poor were increasingly disadvantaged. This means that one of the principal arguments against any private sector market is directly contradicted by the result. It may, at first, appear like a takeover of our health will help those who cannot afford care in the current system, but in the end it still means that the rich are able to care for themselves while the poor are left to die. The only thing that changes is that there are no affordable alternatives due to a lack of competition.
Universal health care does not truly mean health care for ‘all’. The World Health Organization published an article on their website on January 13, 2016, stated that ‘rationing’ is a necessary part of any Universal Healthcare System. According to the WHO’s article, the governments decide for their people the most cost-effective treatments and utilize waiting lists for treatment. Even though these systems are supposed to be “Free health care for all”, the government still requires its citizens to pay copays for their treatment. The government also has to mandate that some types of treatment are not covered at all, and the people have no choice otherwise.
Health Systems limited by government dominance leads to the inevitable problem of all government bureaucracy: slow, inefficient systems. The 2013 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey in Eleven Countries reported the wait time results for health care in, as the name says, eleven countries. This survey reported by the Commonwealth Fund showed that the wait times for purely single-payer health care systems often used as the ideal system have the longest wait times, with Sweden and Canada far ahead of the United States. The wait times reported by patients were separated into two categories: under 4 weeks and two months or more.
The United States was at 80% for under 4 weeks and 6% for over two months. Canada and Sweden were at 39% and 54% respectively for 4 weeks, and 17% and 29% for over two months. Wait times in health care are incredibly important, and these dangerously long extensions can cost people their lives. What good is health care that you don’t have to directly pay for, if you never live to get the care? Transition: All of these effects are just part of what comes with any change to full socialist health care. If the US were to change to this system, the effects would be much worse.
The moves towards universal health care in this country have already made the health care system much worse and moving to it fully would spell even more disaster for everyone. Legislation to like the Affordable Care Act and other laws that moves us closer to socialized medicine have already made health care in the US worse. The Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare, took effect on the nation starting in 2014. This legislation not only tightened regulation on health insurance companies but forced every American without private insurance to either sign up for their health insurance or pay a fine.
Another largely advertised part of this bill was forcing insurance companies to accept people with pre-existing conditions. This act was meant to be a step forward, towards universal care, and its negative effects have already begun to take place. According to a report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), their 2017 Health Report, up until 2015 the life expectancy rate was growing at a steady rate. Ever since 2015, though, the life expectancy for both men and women has begun decreasing more and more every year. This is the first time in the United States’ history where we will live shorter lives than our parents.
Holahan, Blumberg and Wengle, writers for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, published in a report called “Changes is Marketplace Premiums 2017-2018” reported that in the United States, insurance premium rates for lower end plans, called “silver plans” increased by 32%, and higher tier “gold plans” went up by 19.1%. iv. If this plan was meant to make health care more accessible and affordable for the poor and hurt the rich, why are the plans for poorer Americans increasing at nearly twice the rate as the rate for the rich? In my personal experience, the current government aid system is ruining not only the hospital experience for patients in need, but also the hospitals themselves.
Many times, patients on Medicare or Medicaid often come to McDonough District Hospital, often for mundane injuries/illnesses because they do not have to pay for it. This leaves the Emergency Room and other areas of the hospital much busier and detracts from patients with actual issues getting the speedy treatment that they deserve and need. This once again shows how a universal health care system detracts from real patients with real issues as I had stated earlier.
The hospital I am employed at itself is suffering because of the public aid programs. Currently, the hospital is running out of money giving so many Medicaid patients treatment, because the state itself is out of money and Medicare is horribly inefficient. Currently, the debt owed to the hospital is in the hundreds of millions and this alone is a massive cause for the struggling state of the hospital. People have been laid off, outsourced and outright fired because the hospital cannot afford getting along without this debt. If the US continues on this trend, the negative effects of UHC will make everyone’s lives worse.
Charles Blahous, a senior researcher at George Mason University, wrote for the Mercatus Working Paper on July 30th, 2018 about the costs of the “Medicare-For-All” (M4A) plan proposed by the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. This report found that DOUBLING taxes on every single American and all businesses large and small would still be insufficient to cover the costs for the first 10 years of this plan, increasing every year after.
This means not only the rich, but also the poor and middle class, which this plan claims it would ‘help.’ The report also found that this plan is designed to cut provider pay by 40%. This means the hospitals, doctors and nurses all making nearly half of the pay they make now. iv. These results are unfair for the public as well as the health care providers. The costs would make health costs increasingly to expensive for Americans, thus creating the same inequity present in China’s recent UHC implementation. The shortage of health care centers and providers would exacerbate the shortage of providers and make the rationing problem even worse for us than the other countries.
Because of all these negatives that WILL occur, I hope I have helped you at least reconsider what you think of the American health care system; you now hopefully have thought through some of what I have said and question what you may have been told before about how ‘universal’ health care is not a true ‘universal’ cure. I made sure to inform you about the ways that America’s health care system is the backbone of the world’s health care industry and without our innovation the other socialized medicine countries would not be able to thrive. I told you also about how the many negatives of UHC are too great for real benefits to be seen by our society.
I also showed how the current steps towards socialized care is hurting the health care industry and any steps to move closer to socialism would only make it much, much worse; especially for those that the plans would claim to help. For everyone here, I am not trying to get you to become an expert on all things health care before you vote. All that you need to do to be a more informed person on the direction that the most important part of our lives, our health, is headed. All that I ask is that next time you think about our health care system, you look past the buzz words and the attractive promises to the underlying dark side of the “FREE” deal. Like the old adage always says, “if it seems to good to be true, it is.”