Universal health care would provide medical coverage for every person in the US, regardless of ability to pay. Everyone would be entitled to a basic level of health care, whether they were employed or not, or whether they had pre-existing conditions. Everyone would have coverage for basic preventive care, and would be screened for potential disease in order to provide treatment as early and as economically as possible.
Who Would Universal Health Care Benefit?
Universal health care would benefit the uninsured, who often delay care because of the expense and then crowd hospital emergency rooms when they get too sick to put off care any longer. It would benefit the working poor, who often cannot afford health insurance, but make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. Universal health care would benefit taxpayers, who are supporting the costs of health care for the uninsured. It would benefit hospitals, because they could concentrate on the critically ill, instead of providing clinic services to the uninsured. It would benefit insurance companies because they would no longer have to worry about insuring small groups with high risk factors. The larger pool of insured would spread risk evenly.
Universal Health Care Opponents
Opponents to universal coverage complain about the cost to fund such an enormous undertaking. Concerned about government inefficiencies in other areas, they believe the medical system would become poorly managed and even more expensive than it already is. They also are concerned that patients would no longer be able to choose their providers.
The sometimes volatile conversation about universal health care has continued for over fifty years in this country. During that same time, annual medical costs have grown from $500 per person to over $6,700 per person, far outstripping the growth of wages.
Health Care and the 2008 Presidential Elections
Health care is a major topic in the 2008 US Presidential elections. Major candidates from both parties have added the problem to their platforms; and the public hopes for an effective solution to the problem. Funding a universal system is a challenge that the two major parties would solve in different ways.
Republicans would prefer a system that deregulated the insurance market to promote competition among providers. They would also change the tax laws that benefit businesses who ensure their employees, and would help the working poor purchase insurance.
Democrats would require all people to be insured, would require employers to offer insurance to employees or to contribute to a fund to help pay for insurance for those employees who couldn’t purchase their own, and would expand Medicaid and other current programs to include more people.
One Democratic candidate, Dennis Kucinich, would create a national single-payer health care system that was non-profit.
The issue of affordable health care is one that is begging for a political and economic solution, and some form of universal health care is one solution that may finally be the best choice for everyone.