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Does Healthcare Access Meet the Needs of All U.S Citizens?

Introduction

America is one of the world’s leading economies, with the highest Medicaid spending per capita. At the same time, the country cannot afford to give all of its citizens universal coverage. The governmental reform, stuck somewhere in transition between capitalist and socialist healthcare models, remains rather inefficient. Although there was a decrease in the number of uninsured American citizens since the introduction of Obamacare, at least 28.5 million citizens remain without coverage (“Key facts,” 2016). The majority of these citizens come from low-income families, with at least 1 full-time-employed family member. Meanwhile, the debates between the supporters of universal and free-market healthcare models continue both on the left and the right wings of the political spectrum. Nurses too must take a stand in this issue, as they are the primary healthcare providers for the majority of the population, and are the largest and most represented stratum in the medical hierarchy.

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Who are Affected?

According to Kaiser Family Foundation (2016), around 28.5 million people remain without medical coverage. The key reason for not having any is due to the fact that Medicare health insurance is too expensive for them to have. On average, a family of 4 needs to spend around 22,000 USD per year on healthcare insurance. More than a half of this cost is typically paid for by the employer (around 12,000 USD), while the rest is paid for by the worker (“Average cost,” 2016). The situation is much worse for the self-employed, as they do not get the benefit from the employer paying for them. In addition, the government offers deductions for healthcare for families and individuals with low income. While this managed to alleviate the situation for some low-income families, the resulting increases in healthcare costs made insurance undesirable for the families that were just a little above being considered low-income, and who did not receive the deductions associated with it. In 2015, 20% out of uninsured adults went without medical help despite needing it, due to the fact they could not afford it (“Key facts,” 2016).

Public Opinion on Universal Healthcare

Public opinion on universal healthcare is divided, depending on the public’s view of the government duties and obligations as well as attitudes towards healthcare. Those in the lower wages segment, who do not possess the ability to purchase quality healthcare, advocate for universal healthcare. This stance is supported by many within the medical and religious communities, as well as political figures. Bernie Sanders, a US senator, had expressed his stance on the subject, claiming that healthcare is a right and not a privilege, therefore it must be available for every man, woman, and child (“Should all Americans,” 2017). Those on the right, on the other hand, state that universal healthcare advocates slavery, as it entitles people to healthcare without needing to reward the efforts of healthcare providers. This opinion was expressed by Rand Paul, a senator for the Republican Party (“Should all Americans,” 2017).

Public Opinion on Free-Market Healthcare

The alternative to the Universal healthcare model is the Free-market model, which is highly-endorsed by the supporters of the right political spectrum. It is based on the idea that competition between healthcare providers would decrease the prices for the end user and thus produce affordable healthcare. Another argument offered by the supporters of the free-market healthcare model is that it does not infringe anyone’s rights and does not force the people and the government to pay for someone else. Michael F. Cannon, the director of Health Policy Studies and Cato institute points out that a free-market model is beneficial for healthcare, as universal healthcare raises important questions of where does the need for healthcare for a person ends (“Should all Americans,” 2017). The critics of a free-market healthcare system point out that free-market is not applicable to medicine due to it “lacking any vital features of the market” (El-Sayed, 2012).

Nursing Philosophy and Moral Obligations

Ever since the appearance of medicine, it was treated like something more than just yet another service offered to the populace. Doctors were always held to the higher moral standard, as their craft is meant to save lives. All nursing philosophical theories frameworks, starting with Nightingale’s theory and ending with Jean Watson state that the primary role of a doctor or a nurse is to promote healthcare and prevent illnesses from spreading (Lyons, 2015). This paradigm is all-inclusive, and does not make any differences between age, gender, race, or the ability to pay. This naturally aligns the majority of medical workers who actually believe in the causes and tenets of modern medicine, with the supporters of Universal Care. The Free-Market approach, on the other hand, is in conflict with the majority of nursing theories and codes of conduct, as they suggest refusing healthcare to patients if they are unwilling or unable to pay for it.

Nursing and Christianity

Nursing and Christianity are intertwined, as the practice of taking care of the sick and injured stems directly from Christian traditions and teachings. The word hospital comes from the Order of Hospitallers of Saint John of God (Lyons, 2015). It was a knightly order, which had a purpose of helping out and nursing the sick and injured on their way to the holy land. They operated a number of hospitals in Jerusalem, Acre, and other cities under the control of the crusader states. The practice of offering medical assistance free of charge traces back to the teachings of Jesus Christ, who offered his aid without wanting anything in return, even to the people who admonished him for it.

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The Concept of Christian Healthcare

Tenets of Christian faith are aligned with nursing work, thus are very easy to integrate into standard practices on clinical, practical, educational, and research levels. Many notable nurse theorists were Christian, so the majority of modern nursing philosophies already carry Christian teachings, since those were used as an ethical framework, upon which the philosophy was built up. Nurses can provide both physical and spiritual care. Since medicine is considered a holistic practice, it is important to promote health of mind, body, and spirit at the same time, in order to ensure wellness and well-being of the patient (Lyons, 2015).

Christianity and Healthcare systems

Christianity was always a natural proponent of universal healthcare, as selfless assistance to those in need is one of the core principles of the faith. In the past, monasteries provided refuge and medical care to those in need, free of charge. Naturally, the poor and the sick flocked to churches, in their need of help. As Christian monasteries provided education as well, the majority of medical practitioners of the past came from within their walls. Nowadays, Christianity remains firmly in favor of universal healthcare. According to Pope Francis, “Health is not a consumer good, but rather a universal right, and therefore access to health care services cannot be a privilege” (Lyons, 2015).

Personal Opinion – Economic views on Healthcare

Personally, I stand in favor of universal healthcare over the free-market model and the current insurance model currently present in the USA. I believe that medicine should be excerpt from the standard economic views that other spheres and businesses are subjugated to. Medicine can never be free-market due to unpredictability and high-emergency nature of medicine itself. In the majority of the cases, the patient is in no position to bargain and look for alternatives, when his or her condition is acute. The current insurance model is ineffective and contradicts the free-market theory as well, since it places the interests of the patients in the hands of companies that may not necessary have the best interests of the patients in mind. Free-market healthcare system essentially denies healthcare to those who need it the most – the poor. In the case with direct transactions, they do not often have the possibility to pay up, and in the case with insurance – they cannot afford it either.

Personal Opinion – Philosophical Views on Healthcare

The other reasons why I support universal healthcare over free-market healthcare is because of the holistic and Christian principles behind my profession as a nurse. My personal beliefs, my religion, and my training all suggest that I must provide healthcare to those in need, regardless of whether they can afford to pay it or not. At the same time, if I work for free, I will not be able to sustain myself. However, if the government pays for the nursing work that I do, then both the needs of the patients and the medical workers would be equally satisfied. The government already provides funding for such crucial areas of our lives such as infrastructure maintenance, emergency response units, the army, and law enforcement. Medical care is as crucial to the society as the areas mentioned above.

Personal Opinion – Universal Healthcare and the Target Group

The group I reviewed earlier in this presentation includes low-income families with at least 1 full-time worker. This shows that some people, even though they are honest and hardworking, cannot afford healthcare under the current insurance model, and the switch to free-market model will only make things worse, as medicine operating under free-market laws will quickly lose its human face and turn into a for-profit industry with no regard for health promotion and human life. Universal healthcare, on the other hand, would solve the target group’s need for healthcare and will greatly improve the healthiness of our nation.

Conclusions

Universal healthcare is what the USA needs the most. In order to promote health for everyone and prevent diseases, healthcare should be fully funded from the federal budget. Tenets of universal care align with the needs of the many, with Christian values, and with the philosophical pillars upon which all nursing theory is built. The USA is famous for spending the most on medical care, yet at the same time its system remains notoriously inefficient. Fully committing to universal care while leaving private contractors for those who desire paid medical care would help cut down costs on bureaucracy and promote cheaper and more quality healthcare.

References

Average cost of health insurance. (2016). Web.

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El-Sayed, A. (2012). Five reasons free markets don’t work in healthcare. Web.

Key facts about the uninsured population. (2016). Web.

Lyons, K. (2015). The role of Christianity in nursing. Web.

Should all Americans have the right (be entitled) to health care? (2017). Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, August 13). Does Healthcare Access Meet the Needs of All U.S Citizens? Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/does-healthcare-access-meet-the-needs-of-all-u-s-citizens/

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Does Healthcare Access Meet the Needs of All U.S Citizens?" August 13, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/does-healthcare-access-meet-the-needs-of-all-u-s-citizens/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Does Healthcare Access Meet the Needs of All U.S Citizens'. 13 August.

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