Universal health care (UHC) refers to a national health system in which the government guarantees that a person will receive health care services regardless of whether he or she is able to pay for them. UHC is considered an ideal that every country should strive to achieve. Yet, upon reviewing the pros and cons of UHC, one can conclude that although this system promises many societal benefits, it is quite difficult to implement.
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There are several advantages of UHC that are often cited by the proponents of this system. Rituparna Basu from the Ayn Rand Institute (2015) states that UHC is often praised for the reduced costs of health care and good quality of care. Bloom et al. (2018) also say that UHC supports the principle of social justice because it makes health care affordable to everyone regardless of their economic status. Further, UHC allows for considering health a fundamental human right and contributes to the overall health of the nation, which improves the country’s economic, political, and social well-being (Bloom et al., 2018). Thus, the pros of UHC are multifaceted, ranging from improving the health of individuals to enhancing the nation’s well-being.
However, in reality, countries implementing UHC are faced with some issues resulting from this system. According to Ayn Rand Institute (2015), UHC aims at reducing the costs of health care by inserting government control over the prices of drugs, treatments, and doctors’ services. Since the government keeps prices at a low level, this leads to several negative consequences. First, doctors have to see more patients per day in order to cover the expenses of running a healthcare business. As a result, they can spend less time on each patient. Doctors also cannot hire the administrative staff and have no spare time to continue their education, which takes a toll on the quality of care (Ayn Rand Institute, 2015). Finally, because of governmental control, hospitals cannot purchase the latest equipment or increase the number of beds, and drug producers do not have enough profits to invest in R&D.
To sum up, UHC can be considered ideal only in countries that can afford to spend a large portion of their budgets on health care. So, this system seems to be not feasible for developing countries, the GDP of which is too low to cover the healthcare expenses. When the government budget is scarce, UHC seems to result in the health care of suboptimal quality.
Ayn Rand Institute. (2015). Understanding the arguments for universal health care (OCON 2015) [Video]. YouTube.
Bloom, D. E., Khoury, A., & Subbaraman, R. (2018). The promise and peril of universal health care. Science, 361, 766.