Is It Time For Universal Healthcare?
By: Ted Beust | Our Voice Contributor
Healthcare is a hot-button issue that Americans have debated for many years. There are now many cries for universal healthcare, a system that will cover every citizen and makes sure no one goes bankrupt from medical bills. Universal healthcare has also been called a single-payer system, where the sole insurance provider is the federal government. People who don’t like a single-payer system call it “socialized medicine.”
Another negative term for single-payer is “government-run healthcare.” Western Europe and Canada are prime examples of countries that have a single-payer system. England’s form of universal healthcare is known as the National Health Service of England, also known as the NHS, while Canada’s healthcare system is simply called Medicare.
The United States has Medicare as well. Medicare in America is only available to Americans over the age of 65, so that’s a major downside for millennials. Many Millennials in America have to worry about student loan debt, and universal healthcare would provide one less bill they have to worry about. One major benefit of universal healthcare is that everyone is covered, so medical bills and co-pays are almost unheard of.
“I’ve never heard of a co-pay until the States. I’ve heard of foreigners paying them, but not us” said Wright State University graduate, Jason McKever, in an interview. “You don’t pay anything when you use the NHS for just about anything and everything” said Liam Anderson, a political science professor at Wright State University.
The National Health Service covers just about everything without having to pay a copay. The Healthcare Triage YouTube channel, with videos hosted by Doctor Aaron Carroll, discussed the National Health Service and what it covers in a video.
In the video about the NHS and what they cover, he said, “The coverage is pretty broad. Preventative services, inpatient care, outpatient care, drugs, dental healthcare, mental healthcare, rehabilitation, long term care, even care some eye-care – it’s all covered.” This kind of service would benefit Millennials, since healthcare can get very expensive in America. A major economic benefit of single-payer healthcare is that employers, either large or small, will no longer have to provide health insurance for their employees.
Under the Affordable Care Act, there is a business mandate, which states that businesses that have over 50 full-time employees must provide health insurance. Single-payer healthcare would help an employer as it would take away a high cost expenditure for the company. Another benefit of single-payer healthcare is that prescription drugs are a lot cheaper than they are in the U.S. “On average you pay at least eight to nine dollars for a prescription. But if you’re in school in England, you get your prescription drugs for free” Anderson said.
A major disadvantage of universal healthcare is wait times for treatment. Countries with this kind of healthcare experience longer wait times than other countries do, such as the United States. When asked about prescription drugs, McKever said, “There is price control since most businesses and taxpayers put money into a ‘bowl’ if you will.” McKever added, “And the cost gets spread out, making it lower.”
One of the deficiencies of the single payer healthcare system is longer wait times. Wait times under the NHS are longer than other countries, such as France and Germany. The issue has gotten to the point that doctors in this region are suggesting that patients use private hospitals for treatment. Canada has struggles with wait times as well. Wait times for Canadians for their healthcare is almost as bad. The wait times have come to the point when a patient had to wait up to 21 weeks just to see a specialist. One result of the single-payer healthcare system is the increase in taxes that are considerably higher than the United States. “Oh god yes. The taxes are much higher in Canada” said Linda Farmer, a philosophy professor at Wright State University during a recent interview.
There are some people that are against a universal healthcare system, but there is also those in favor of universal healthcare. One opponent of universal healthcare in Congress is Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Cruz is virulently against single-payer healthcare and refers to that as “socialized medicine.” During one of the Republican debates held on Feb. 6th, 2016, at Amherst College, he shared his thoughts on what he calls “socialized medicine,” saying, “Socialized medicine is a disaster, it does not work. If you look at the countries that have imposed said socialized medicine that have put the government in charge of providing medicine; what inevitably happens is rationing. They’re going to ration end-of-life care. They’re going to ration a hip replacement.”
Another politician who is against a single-payer system is Kentucky senator and ophthalmologist, Rand Paul. Paul has gone as far as comparing universal healthcare to slavery. When debating Sanders about healthcare, Sanders initially said that healthcare should be a basic human right. “I’m a physician. That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery,” Sen. Paul said. “It means that you’re going to enslave not only me, but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants who work in my office, the nurses… If I’m a physician in your community and you say you have a right to health care, do you have a right to beat down my door with the police, escort me away and force me to take care of you? That’s ultimately what the right to free health care would be. If you believe in a right to health care, you’re believing in basically the use of force to conscript someone to do your bidding.”
The most well-known supporter of universal healthcare is Vermont senator and former 2016 presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. Time and time again the senator has said that healthcare is a basic human right. Another staunch supporter of single-payer healthcare is Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison. Ellison has sponsored House Resolution 676, which was also called the Expand and Improve Medicare For All Act. The legislation would have established a Canadian-style healthcare system in the United States.
This topic has the political parties divided as they have differing views on the healthcare system. Sixty-seven percent of Democrats favor a government-run system, while only 22 percent of Republicans favor a similar one. A Gallup poll shows that Democrats are more in favor of a government-run healthcare system compared to the Republicans. Millennials are also in favor of universal healthcare.
A Morning Consult/Politico poll shows that 69 percent of millennials are in favor of a single payer system.