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What Are the Benefits of Universal Health Care?

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  • Written By: Craig Bonnot
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 30 June 2014
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Universal health care is a type of medical care in which the government pays for its citizens’ medical needs. With universal health care, individuals do not buy health insurance from private companies, they pay additional taxes to the government, and those taxes are used to fund the health care system. As of 2011, Canada, Russia and parts of Europe were among the places where universal health care programs were in use. One of the main benefits of universal health care is that every citizen has access to health care. Other possible benefits of universal health care include reduced employee costs for businesses and greater efficiency for medical professionals.

Under universal health care, all the nation’s citizens receive health care from the government. Health care is paid for by taxes. The tax rates typically are designed so that the upper classes pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes, and the poor pay a lower percentage. This is called a progressive tax system. Under this system, people who cannot afford to buy private insurance have access to health coverage.

Universal health care guarantees that every citizen is able to receive essential medical services. With private health care, many people do not go to the doctor because they cannot afford to go. When sick people put off medical treatment, their conditions can get worse, making them much more expensive to treat. Some people die from conditions that could have been treated had they been able to afford medical care earlier.

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A universal health care system can also lower the cost of doing business in a country. In a private health care system, most people get their insurance coverage from their employer, but offering health care to every employee can be expensive. Offering employees both health care and a salary raises the cost of doing business. One of the benefits of universal health care is that employers do not have to shoulder their employees’ medical costs and are able to be more competitive as a result.

Another one of the benefits of universal health care is that it might also lower the cost and increase the efficiency of health care overall. With private health care, each health plan has its own unique procedures and claims process. Medical professionals have to spend a lot of time and energy complying with the policies of these insurance companies.

With universal health care, however, medical professional have to deal with only one health care system. They are not required to spend as much time and money processing claims. With private medical insurance, doctors have to determine which procedures are covered by each insurance plan, but with universal health care, doctors are not required to this, so they can spend more time practicing medicine.

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Discuss this Article

croydon
Post 3

@bythewell - There are financial arguments for both sides. There's a reason that waiting lists have to be that long. The only reason they are shorter in places without universal health care is that those places simply don't have as many people able to get surgery. So it's only a question of a handful of people having to wait in one scenario, versus a lot of people dying because they can't afford the surgery at all in the second.

And the pharmaceutical companies might not be able to make the record profits they make now, but considering how many of them exist and survive in Europe, I don't think that will actually be a long term problem for the consumer.

bythewell
Post 2

@pleonasm - It is definitely not that simple. If you go to a lot of the countries that do have universal health care you will find that the people who need operations will often have to wait a lot longer to get them, because there is such a big waiting list.

These are people who might have been on health insurance (which would guarantee a fast operation) if they hadn't had complete faith in their access to health care.

They do have access, they just have to wait in line for it.

And then there are the pharmaceutical companies. A lot of the drugs they develop take millions and millions of dollars to research and they only do it because they expect a good return. Government contracts will almost certainly damage that process as well.

pleonasm
Post 1

I just can't see any downsides to universal health care. In fact it really shocks me that all countries don't have this as an automatic human right. It just makes sense to ensure that everyone is healthy and that they don't have to worry about getting the medication that they need.

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