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Universal Health Care: Definition and Advantages

Introduction

A universal health care program ensures that all the citizens of a country receive health care without any difficulties. Many countries in developed Europe have embraced the health care program and their citizens can receive treatment even in emergency cases free of charge. Every government must find ways of ensuring that its citizens are taken care of in times of sickness regardless of their financial position. This paper explains in depth what universal health care is and brings out the real benefits of developing universal health care. It also criticizes some of the arguments against universal health care and proposes practical and realistic health care practices.

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Further, the role of interest groups is a major determinant in the achievement and administration of universal healthcare. As written Immergut points out that the financial strengths and numeral number of these interest groups are a determinant in the administration of healthcare, as it affects the policies to be administered.

He wrote:

Immergut convincingly points out that that the numerical or financial strengths of the diverse interest groups do not explain the difference in policy outcomes. Rather, the opportunities and constraints created by different institutional configurations at a macro-constitutional level enhance and limit the capabilities of different groups (Immergut 175).

It should further be noted that for universal health care to be realized; there may be the need for movements even though ‘no movement of comparable size or intensity has arisen in the United States to demand universal health care as noted in the American Journal of healthcare (Beatrix 75-85). It should further be noted that “Reforming our health care system is surely one of the dominant issues in our public discourse”; as noted from the Director’s forum on universal healthcare provision (Cook).

The kind of a universal health care program will vary from one country to another. The United Kingdom started its universal health care program after the Second World War. The Germans started theirs in the days of Otto Von Bismarck. Countries like the U.S.A. have embraced the universal health care program this year. Nevertheless, there have been great debates on the introduction of the same and the president of the United States has agreed to sign in the health bill which will see the introduction of the program in the United States of America (Lance 317).

Definition of universal health care

We can now define universal health care. This is a government system that ensures that all the citizens in a country have access to the required medical care and that all the health services required are available to everybody. If we consider Germany’s early universal health care program, it will give us insight into what the program is and whether it can apply to the modern world. (Wilsford 23-45).

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The German universal health care program had the employees and the employers paying some money that supported the health care system. In the United Kingdom, every cost of medical care is paid through the money collected from the revenues. In this case, nobody is required to pay any money for services provided he is a citizen. Medicines, food, and even accommodation for the sick if need be are provided.

Any other care even outpatient care and equipment is provided. It used to be criticized in the past for offering low-quality services and for laxity in attending customers by the health personnel. However, this is now a thing of the past the government has since then become serious and services are efficient. The government has even involved the private sector to outsource money for the program. It is a reality in the United Kingdom and it’s working well. (White 123-145).

In other countries where no revenues are provided by the government, the citizens are supposed to contribute to an insurance scheme whose rates are very low to ensure that many of the citizens can afford it. The government may also subscribe on behalf of those who can not pay for themselves. This is for those who are jobless. Employers are supposed to pay for their employers so that it does not become a burden to them and to ensure that nobody fails to pay the insurance fee. With this knowledge of the definition of universal health care, is it possible to have successful universal health care? (Wilsford 23-45).

Advantages of universal health care

Those who argue against the universal health care program have their arguments but they have no weight compared to the advantages of the same. The majority of these against it argue out that countries with the program have problems maintaining it. They claim that those people in need of expensive tests can not receive them under the universal health care program and that if they ever receive them, it’s usually after a long period when the condition has undergone an advanced stage. But I will ask them a question, what about those people who can not access the services even for a mild illness because they can’t even afford the money for such a service?

Wouldn’t it have been better for them to have been covered by the program than not to be covered because great and expensive tests can not be taken for some other people? Immigrants who have moved to the United States of America from Europe have testified that health care in the USA is damn expensive compared to their home countries. They say that though they pay higher taxes in their countries, they find it easy to access the services in their countries than in places where they do not pay any taxes for the health scheme. The main argument here is that the care is readily available. (Glaser23-45)

Arguments for health care

A universal health care program in the USA is important and is required. But greater than this is required a way of preventing the diseases rather than a way of curing them. What benefit is there in preparing to cure a disease rather than attempting to prevent it? The reason why I say this is because of some shocking results and statistics about the health of Americans. I should not be quoted to say that universal health care is not required in the United States. I am a number one proponent of this kind of service in the USA. Am only trying to say that together with the program which will be good in curing the diseases, other things should be done to prevent the diseases

To explain why I am saying so, I will list down some findings done recently on the health of Americans (Rodwin 39-58).

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It has been found out that America has the greatest number of people with chronic diseases in the whole world. Of these the most common disease is cancer and it is the most rapidly growing disease among children. Together with cancer, obesity and diabetes are found to be at alarming rates in young people. Research has also shown out that the healthy people in America are a small generation of old people who do not live on drugs. The young people in America are dying before their parents and grandparents who are older than them. This research continues to show that these chronic diseases can be reduced by changing the diets and some little exercise which will aid in removing the toxins in the body.

Everybody will agree with me that these results are freighting and something has to be done and this thing is not only introducing a universal health program but also educating the citizens on good health habits. The young are the most affected people here and unless a change is realized, a time is coming when the nation will be dominated by the aged generation. Young people will have died due to bad health habits whether they have a good universal health care program or not. (McLachlan 289-325)

All in all, we can not run away from the fact that we need the universal health care program and everybody in the world accepts that we need a health care program. Today America ranks 16th in infant mortality and 67th in immunizations because it stayed for a very long time without universal health care. Countries that have had the program have continued to rank in the first positions as far as these aspects are concerned. The reason for this is because many people who need these services can not access them because they can not afford them (Glaser23-45)

However, in the presence of a universal health care system, situations similar to this where people cannot afford preventive services but rather go to hospitals to undergo expensive and complicated surgeries which may incapacitate them will be avoided. This is because people will be able to access preventive services and therefore stay healthy for a long time and thus work and pay taxes for a longer period thus benefiting the government (White 123-145).

It is cheaper to maintain a universal health care program than otherwise. Research shows that those countries that provided for the same spent less compared to those which do not have it. It also showed that different states would spend less if they provided the universal health care program than if they didn’t. A good example is research done by the Health Care Access Commission which showed that a health care program provided to all citizens regardless of their age, and status would save Connecticut two billion dollars in the year 1999.

This is possible because such a system does not need administrative costs and in any way why should there be administrative protocols if everybody is entitled to the services. Another reason why it is cheaper is that medications will be purchased in bulk. Thus if we fear providing the service because it is expensive, we are wrong. It is 40 times cheaper. (Rodwin 39-58).

If a state expects its people to be more industrious, it will be appropriate for it to provide a universal health care system. Imagine a place where all the people are sick and cannot afford health care services, such people will not work and they will get poor and as a result, the economy of the country is affected due to decreased productivity. Universal health care would lead to increased productivity because people spend less time while sick. I am thinking of a situation where every citizen is insured and can access health care. (Immergut 34)

Many fear that universal health care would deprive citizens of essential services. Nevertheless, in a real sense, it is the opposite. Citizens in a universal health care system will tend to visit the doctor more often than those who are not covered. Research also showed that Americans who did not have this service for a long time had a lot of problems when accessing care because of payment difficulties. These facts are true and fully tested and therefore there is no fear that health care services would not be accessed (Rodwin 39-58).

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Another fear about universal health care is that it will result in the government’s intrusion into people’s health care which leads to loss of freedom of choice. This is not true because it is in a case where there is no universal health care where people are forced to see physicians by the insurers to obtain insurance benefits. You will agree with me that under the system of private health care service, any time one gets sick, the insurer must know so that they can approve for health care services. This is an indication that the consumer has no confidentiality. In the real sense, universal health care provided by the state would be more democratic and consumers and other stakeholders will have a say in making decisions that affect them.

Universal health care is the most appropriate and efficient system for providing health care. It is a system that is not interested in making profits but in maintaining good health for the people (White 123-145).

Many persons working for bosses they aren’t fascinated to; find it not easy to quit those employment positions as by doing so they lose their ‘health insurance cover’. If the universal health care system is in progress, such fears will not be there and such people will move to better jobs, start their own companies and employ more people which is a way of improving productivity and creating employment (Lance 317).

There are also individual benefits of the universal health care system. Many insurance companies charge rates based on the health history of the customer. Sometimes they will exaggerate the premiums because your past health history is wanting. This will never happen if we have a universal health care system since it is a group policy and it provides services to everybody regardless of their medical history (Wilsford 23-45).

The universal health care system is easy to use and is also flexible. This is because there are many plans to choose from and the participant has a choice to choose the best option. The program ensures that the participants know how to make important decisions. Information on the physician and hospitals is available and participants will choose the best service provider (White 123-145). With such a universal system, brand-name drug makers will benefit a great deal. They would sell drugs in bulk since the consumers will also increase with the free program. In other words, sales would increase and profits would in turn increase. Pharmacies will also benefit in the same way and business becomes lucrative. (McLachlan 289-325)

Conclusion

In conclusion, universal health care is needed in all parts of this world. In this age of increased chronic illnesses and greater health risks due to technological and industrial developments, every created being must be able to access health care easily and without delay. Anybody who is opposed to such a scheme does not value life and is inhuman. Everybody should be happy when the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the employed and the unemployed, the able and the disabled can access health care.

No wonder President Obama and his followers in America passed the healthy bill which was long overdue. By this gesture, the United States of America joins many other industrialized countries that took the bold step a long time ago. The advantages are many including accessible preventive care rather than curative care, increased productivity from healthy citizens, cheaper, health care services, easy and accessible health services, democratic and confidential health care, informed consumers who can choose what they want and prolonged life expectancy, and many others which have been discussed in this paper. The disadvantages are few and are not worth quoting in this peace of work. (Glaser23-45)

In this age when medical costs are rising, when many people remain uninsured due to lack of unemployment when people are getting more concerned with their health than ever before, when the quality of health care is more important than profits,

We need to look for solutions and the solution will come from universal health care. Let’s think of health care reform, let’s think of universal health care.

Works cited

Beatrix, Hoffman. “Health Care reform and social movements in the United states”. American Journal of Public Health 2003; 93(1): 75–85.

Cook, Robin. Universal health care coverage in the United States. 2007. Web.

Glaser, Weil. “Health Insurance in Practice”. San Francisco, Calif Josey Bass. 1992: 23-45.

Immergut, Ellen. “Health Politics: Interests and Institutions in Western Europe”. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 1992: 34, 175.

Lance, Roberts. “Recent Social Trends in Canada, 1960-2000”. McGill Queen’s University Press. 2005: p. 317.

McLachlan Gilson, Maynard Alan, Eds. “The Public/Private Mix for Health”. London, England: Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust; 1982:289–325.

Rodwin, Victor. “The rise of managed care in the United States: lessons for French Health policy”. In: Altenstetter C, Bjorkman JW, eds. Health Policy Reform, National Variations, and Globalization. New York, NY: St Martin’s Press; 1997:39–58.

Rodwin, Victor. “Management without objectives: the French health policy gamble”. Kluwer Publishers. 2005: 25.

Wilsford, David. Doctors and the State: The Politics of Health Care in France and the United States. Durham, NC: Duke University Press; 1991: 23-45

White, Joseph. “Competing Solutions: American Health Care Proposals and International Experience”. Washington, DC: Brookings Institute; 1995: 123-145.

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