What is the Current State of US Healthcare?
The United States is the only developed country that does not provide health care to its citizens. While a lot of medical care is paid for by the federal government, many people still do not have any health coverage.
Does the lack of universal health care have serious consequences, and if so, can it be defended? What is the other side of the story? What does the USA have to gain by not providing universal health care?
The USA does not have universal health care because no one has ever voted for a government willing to provide it. While Obamacare did reduce the number of Americans without health insurance coverage from 40 million to less than 30 million, Obamacare is not universal healthcare.
There are many differences between the history and politics of the USA and the history and politics of Europe. The conditions that led to universal health care appearing in Europe did not exist in the USA at the same time.
Many Americans Won’t Vote for Universal Health Care
Many Americans dislike socialist policies and prefer lower taxes to government spending. They may point out that free health care is not truly free – everyone has to pay for it because everyone has to pay taxes.
While a president can sometimes win an election by promising somewhat socialist policies, they might also lose an election this way. The Democratic Party has never passed a universal health care bill while in power. It is a dangerous political move that they would not necessarily get away with.
There has been a lot of money printing under the Biden administration, to pay for the fight against the pandemic and infrastructure projects. Since this money printing cannot go on forever, now might not be a good time to propose universal health care. It might lead to too much political backlash.
Why Did Universal Health Care Start in Europe but not America?
Many European countries adopted universal health care after the second world war. The war led to tens of millions of deaths and even more people losing their homes, which meant everyone was strongly in favor of universal health care.
While many Americans (400,000) died in the war, no American cities were destroyed, and the death count was relatively low. The United States was twice as rich after the war as before it.
Other countries had lost their industries to the war, allowing Americans to become much richer very fast. It seemed fair to expect everyone to pay for their own health care or find a job that paid for it. At the time, universal health care seemed unnecessary because good jobs were relatively easy to get.
American Health Care is Already Expensive
The United States spends more money on health care than most other countries. In 2018, the government spent $11,000 on healthcare per person – the highest in the world.
While the United States does not offer medical care to anyone, there is a lot of federal government health care spending. That makes it hard to argue that spending should be even higher to cover all US citizens.
Other Countries’ Health Care Systems are Imperfect
Just because health care is available to everyone in a country doesn’t mean the quality of the care is excellent. The Canadian system, for example, has many problems.
People might be on a waiting list for a doctor for years, they might also lack access to new medical technology or have to wait for services. For this reason, many people defend the American system as less flawed than what many other countries offer.
People are not necessarily right to defend American health care. It is both more expensive than and provides worse care than the systems of many other countries. However, universal health care is still opposed by so many voters that it does not yet exist in the United States.
What are the Consequences of not Having Universal Health Care?
Many people end up bankrupt after a trip to the hospital in the United States. Without health insurance, an American has to pay the total medical care cost of whatever medical treatment they receive, which could be a fortune.
Many people never recover from their medical bills in America. This is very different from other developed countries, where the government covers most or all other medical expenses.
How Can American Health Care Be Reformed?
American health care is very inefficient, with a lot of the money being spent on a needlessly complex bureaucracy. Far too much of the total cost is spent on administration. The costs of many procedures are also far higher in the United States than in many other countries.
The United States would be better off if it created a health care system similar to that of France or some other country where universal health care works properly. Most countries that offer universal health care do not have nearly as many problems with their health care coverage as the US does.
Many people make a massive amount of money from the flawed American health care system, which makes it difficult to reform. A strong, determined government would have to pass a large health care reform bill despite how many people would oppose it.