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Universal Healthcare System


The United States is the only country in the developed world that does not have a universal health care system. The United States pursues a predominantly private health care system with little government intervention. However, the system is in a deep crisis. High insurance premiums and high out-of-pocket user fees have lowered the accessibility of medical and health care to many American citizens. Approximately 47 million Americans are uninsured (Watson and Ovseiko, p.226). The crisis currently facing the United States health care system is the reason behind the heated debate about whether or not the United States should adopt a universal health care system.

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A universal health care system provides access to necessary health care to all citizens regardless of their level of income, employment status or age. The advantage of this accessibility is that it encourages citizens to seek early treatment before their medical conditions worsen. As a result, the system eliminates inequality that is usually created by a private health care system. Citizens of countries with universal health care systems do not have to worry or think about bills whenever they fall ill because the health care services are provided freely.

On the other hand, many citizens in countries with predominantly private health care systems wait until their medical conditions are at a later stage before they seek any medical attention. Many times, the medical attention is sought when it is already too late such that the health condition cannot be cured. This normally happens because of the costs involved in a private health care system which discourage citizens from accessing health care facilities as often as they should. As a result, residents of countries with universal health care systems (such as Canada) are relatively healthier compared to residents in countries with private health care systems. According to Gilles, “Canadians have a longer life span and their mortality rates are lower because of the availability and accessibility of health care,” (p.129).

A universal health care system also reduces the administrative costs involved in health care. This is because administration is done from a centralized location. The private health care system on the other hand is laden with great amount of paperwork and requirements that patients must fulfill before they receive any medical attention. For instance, patients are always required to fill out their medical history and to answer endless questions. To worsen the situation, the doctors and other health care professionals keep their own records leading to duplication of records.

A universal health care system avoids the duplication of such record keeping since the records are kept in one central place. As Holtz states, “a universal healthcare plan allows us to build one centralized system. There is no need for maintaining insurance information or wasting time submitting claims,” (p.73). The high administrative costs involved in private health care system make the universal health care system relatively cheaper. For instance, Canada’s total health care expenditures as a share of Gross Domestic Product has always been below 10 percent whereas the U.S total health expenditures as a share of GDP has always been above 13 percent. Despite these advantages of the universal health care system, this system is not without its demerits (Holtz, p.81).

A universal health care system is almost always accompanied by long queues, long waiting times and poor quality of goods and services (Gilles, p.131). According to the law of demand, the lower the price of any good or service, the higher will be the demand and vice versa. A universal health insurance system causes an increase in the number of people accessing health and medical services. The result of the increased demand is that there are long queues of people seeking medical attention forcing the healthcare professionals to put more people in their waiting lists. This is different from the private health care system in which people receive medical attention immediately they go to a health care facility. In addition, the high demand for medical and health services reduces the quality of services and goods provided by the universal system.

A universal system discourages people from pursuing the field of medicine due to lack of profit incentives. Since doctors and other health care professionals are paid by the government, there are no profit incentives like those present in the private health care system (Holtz, p.77). The system also suffers from brain drain because healthcare professionals are forced to move to other countries where the pay and incentives are more attractive. This is common in Canada which pursues a universal health care system. The ultimate result is a decline in the quality of health care services.

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A universal health care system has several disadvantages such as long waiting times, long queues, poor quality of services and care, brain drain and shortage of staff. However its advantages include increased accessibility of medical care to all citizens, affordability and reduced administrative costs, making the universal health care system more favorable than the private health care system.

Works Cited

Gilles, Alan. What Makes a Good Healthcare System? Comparisons, Values, Drivers. Massachusetts: Radcliffe Publishing, 2003.

Holtz, Carol. Global Health Care: Issues and Policies. New York: Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2007.

Watson, Jonathan and Pavel Ovseiko. Health Care Systems: Major Themes in Health and Social Welfare. New York: Routledge, 2005.

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StudyCorgi. "Universal Healthcare System." November 22, 2021.


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