Despite being the richest and most powerful country in the world, the U.S. has a health care system that is on par with a developing country with a rank of 37 out 191 nations that were examined by the WHO (World Health Organization). Despite the extensive amount spent on wars, foreign aid and a variety of programs designed to enhance America’s stature on the international stage, there is an insufficient level of progress when it comes to the cost of healthcare within the country.
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It is with this in mind that this paper will tackle the issue, explain the origin of the problem and showcase why changes need to be implemented in the way in which healthcare is provided within the country. The assumption of this paper is that the privatized and profit oriented nature of the healthcare system within the country prevents greater accessibility to essential healthcare services for people who need it the most.
Healthcare in America
Statistical data from the analysis of Daemmrich shows that nearly 50 million people within the U.S. do not have access to proper healthcare. The reason behind this is connected to the high insurance premiums associated with proper healthcare coverage (Daemmrich 137).
While companies do provide some measure of insurance coverage for their employees, it is actually inadequate when taking into consideration the high cost of medication, doctor’s appointments and various medical procedures. Another factor to take into consideration is the fact that some insurance providers within the country cover only a certain percentage of an individual’s medical expenses.
As such, despite paying high insurance premiums (i.e. payments for their insurance policy) per month, they are only getting partial benefits from their insurance provider. However, it should be noted that this state of affairs is not a constant around the world with major differences being seen when comparing the government subsidized healthcare system within various European countries with the distinctly profit driven U.S. system of healthcare.
Healthcare in Europe
Healthcare within Europe in regions such as the UK and France are subsidized through government taxation. In other words, there is a form of universal healthcare in place that all citizens of the country pay into. The advantage of such a system is that access to medical services and procedures is all subsidized by the government to the extent that doctor’s appointments, medication and even surgery is “free” to a certain extent (Huntoon 3).
Complex procedures such as heart transplants are of course more expensive, however, the cost that patients have to pay in Europe is minuscule as compared to their counterparts in the U.S. where the same procedure can cost $100,000 or more.
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When examining the European based system with what is currently present in the U.S., it can clearly be seen which is more advantageous for a country’s citizens. When the concept of “profit” is taken out of the equation, this is where medical services truly thrive in their service to patients (Huntoon 3).
Discrimination in the System
Aside from the factors that have just been mentioned, there is also a considerable amount of discrimination within the U.S. healthcare system. Individuals that have pre-existing conditions, show symptoms of long term illness, work in hazardous jobs or have a history of poor health are deemed as “risky investments” and, as such, are required to pay higher insurance premiums as compared to their “less risky” counterparts.
From the perspective of Wetherell, such a practice can be considered as outright discrimination and can be considered as a type of unethical business practice (Wetherell 44). While it is understandable that such individuals are more likely to use their health insurance as compared to other people, the fact remains that everyone should be given the same level of access.
The inherent problem though with profit driven systems, as explained by Wetherell, is the fact that companies would focus on maximizing profit over the provision of services. This means that health insurance companies within the U.S. are more inclined towards making money than they are in actually providing the much needed services that they are supposed to give (i.e. lowering the cost of medical care).
This shows one of the shortcomings of a “for profit” system which is further exacerbated by the fact that these corporations often attempt to get out of paying for the medical expenses of their clients through a litany of rules, regulations and medical jargon which limits the total payouts that can be given for particular procedures (Wetherell 44).
Despite the fact that these companies are supposed to be providing a much needed service, they go out of their way to prevent themselves from providing it. This is in stark contrast to government based insurance systems where there is no level of discrimination based on pre-existing conditions with payments being given out almost instantly based on the medical requirements needed by a patient.
Why a Government Sponsored System is a Bad Idea
While this paper has so far shown the advantages of a government sponsored healthcare system, there are proponents stating that such a system is simply not feasible within the U.S. Benson adds to the debate by stating that incorporating such a method of healthcare within the U.S. would place a considerable burden on taxpayers. This is primarily due to the increase in taxation that would follow the implementation of a universal healthcare system (Benson 28).
There are also issues related to taxpayers essentially subsidizing the healthcare costs of other taxpayers. Simply put, due to the different scale in which people earn money, the rich would essentially pay more for a service that they would otherwise pay less for. However, while these arguments are perfectly valid in the grand scheme of things, it should be noted that the current cost of healthcare within the U.S. continues to increase substantially per year.
While the cost has been escalating, access to much needed medical services have not kept up. As such, healthcare reform needs to be implemented within the country so that the cost of medical treatments can be brought down. Without such limitations in place, the cost of healthcare could potentially increase exponentially to the point that it might even become prohibitively expensive for the rich.
Based on what has been presented so far, it can clearly be stated that the privatized and profit oriented nature of the healthcare system within the country prevents greater accessibility to essential healthcare services for people who need it the most. It is due to this that healthcare reform needs to be implemented within the country in the form of a government sponsored universal healthcare system. By doing so, this would enable people to get better access to the essential healthcare services that they need.
Benson, Ariel A. “Medical Student Views Of Healthcare Reform In The United States, 2009.” Einstein Journal Of Biology & Medicine 27.1 (2011): 28-33. Print
Daemmrich, Arthur. “U.S. Healthcare Reform And The Pharmaceutical Market: Projections From Institutional History.” Pharmaceuticals Policy & Law 15.3/4 (2013): 137-16. Print
Huntoon, Kristin M. “Healthcare Reform And The Next Generation: United States Medical Student Attitudes Toward The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act.” Plos ONE 6.9 (2011): 1-7. Print
Wetherell, Geoffrey, Christine Reyna, and Melody Sadler. “Public Option Versus The Market: Perceived Value Violations Drive Opposition To Healthcare Reform.” Political Psychology 34.1 (2013): 43-66. Print