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America has experienced a rise in the number of uninsured individuals, increase in price-driven healthcare—in the economy, and the rapid growth in enrolment of Medicaid beneficiaries in managed care plans have critical implications for the future viability of America’s health care. Despite the nation’s enormous resources and vast riches, there has been disparity in the distribution of resources across the populations as some of them fall outside the economic and medical mainstream. They are not able to access stable medical care and health insurance coverage. Currently, there are approximately 45 million Americans who do not have access to health insurance. Some of those uninsured are young people who are single and healthy and have chosen not to purchase health insurance. Others are unable to purchase health insurance because they are homeless; have pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, AIDS, or cancer; or simply cannot afford it. In the absence of universal and comprehensive coverage, the government has instituted a safety net in the health care system that enhances medical treatment for the vast majority of vulnerable and uninsured populations.
Universal Health Care: American Dream
It is no secret that there has been an increase in the health care costs across the country. In essence, the expenditure on health care is more than that for consumption and housing. The insurance premium in the economy is multiplying at a rapid rate than even inflation, thus, inhibiting economic growth and subjects businesses with less income to expand operations. Although United States boasts with quality and available medical care, many Americans believe that the adoption of Universal Health care system will lessen their financial burden on medical expenditure—as in the case of Canada (Shi et al. 572). The recent Health Care bill passed by President Obama’s administration came at a time when the Americans were in need of a reduced health care costs.
Since the heath care premiums have increased rapidly over the past decades, employers have found it hard to offer a health plan for its employees. However, where employers offer a health plan to its employees, the increase in cost is passed to the employees—this necessitates most of them to avoid health coverage. As such, increase in number of Americans who are uninsured would be catered for by the Universal Health care plan. Each of the Americans will be able to access the medical health care without financial strain (Penner 263).
In addition, Universal Health Care will make the medical treatment affordable to every American in the region. Individuals and business organizations have set aside an amount to cater for health insurance purposes. An individual would not incur more in health insurance than that for consumption. On the other hand, business organizations will not increase the amount paid to health insurance as this will necessitate a reduction in employees’ wages and salaries, reduction of job opportunities, and eventual decline in profit outlay (Penner 265). Universal health care will reduce the costs for medical care as such helping in the recovery.
Universal health care enhances centralization of a national database. This will minimize the frequent asked questions about the medical history of patients. Currently, the medical institution is characterized by filling forms with lengthy health history of an individual. With Universal Health Care, all the historical information on the patient will be retrieved from database as the information is centralized. As such, it will save both money and time. In addition, the centralized national system will enhance the physician to undertake data analysis from the reported patients’ illness. This will lead to medical advances, thus increasing diagnosis efficiency—something Americans never dreamed to be possible (Harrington 339).
The biggest weakness in the current American medical system is the treatment of patients with pre-existing medical conditions. Indeed, patients with Asthma or Cancer cannot access the health coverage due to their past or current medical condition. Most insurance companies will not agree to cover them, and incase where they give them the policy, they will need to cover everything including their past medical condition (Shi at al. 64). Therefore, an individual having expensive illness will be faced by one of the two choices: leaving the current medical condition to be untreated, or using all of his/her finances to cater for medical cover. Universal Health care ensures that no one, even with pre-existing medical condition, is denied medical coverage. Individuals can change their jobs without fear of losing health insurance cover.
As many people are currently uninsured, the Americans can easily forego visiting the doctor when they have minor health problems. These physical or preventive measures are often costly, and they will rather wait until the health condition is adverse. In regard to insured individuals, the insurance policy always attracts high deductibles, and they will not be willing to visit the doctor when they have minor illness for preventive measures. For instance, routine mammograms, HIV tests, and physical check-up will ultimately minimize serious health problems in the long run (Musgrave 8). Universal Health Care will minimize cost, therefore, enabling Americans to access medical treatment and check-up in case of minor illness. The government would have removed the disincentives that are associated with visiting the health professionals.
Universal Health Care: National Nightmare
Universal Health Care can be perceived to be a dream for the Americans, but, in reality, it is a nightmare—a necessary evil. The burden of the ‘free’ health care will shift to the citizens. Indeed, the government finances its operations through tax revenue. The increase in expenditure will necessitate the government to increase tax revenues. This will have adverse effects on the basic commodities in the economy—food prices will increase to cater for the increased expenditure (Finley 23). In addition, the government will minimize expenditure on its budgetary outlay on some sectors in the economy. This may include reduction in expenditure on education, defense among others, in an attempt to cater for ‘free’ health care expenditure.
Although the health care will be accessed by the majority of the Americans, the whole operation will be inefficient. Focusing on the historical information, there is no single government agency that has run efficiently. For instance, the Department of Motor Vehicles has been faced with crisis as their services are not prompt and timely. It has resulted to customers delay when they visit the department. As such, if the government cannot effectively undertake the ordinary procedural activities in the Department of Motor Vehicles, it cannot cope with the complexity of the medical system (Sherrow 63).
Competition, individual ingenuity, and profit motives have always enhanced effectiveness and greater cost control in any sector across the economy. Government workers do not enjoy these incentives as they have fixed hourly schedule, few proportion prospects, and cost of living raises. In the private sector, workers can earn promotions; receive raises in cost of living; and can work overtime. This enhances effectiveness and reduces the overall cost to enhances survival in the economy—not the case with government-owned enterprises (Mechanic 179).
In an effort to reduce costs, the government will try to control costs on medical equipment, prices on drugs, and the medical services. This means that there is a likelihood of less incentive in pursuing medical-related research, investment, and development. Regardless of whether the medical costs are incurred privately or publicly, the costs are usually expensive and increases each year (Trouth 207). The rising costs of diagnostic tests, drugs, physician’s salaries, and advanced treatments have also contributed to the increase in the overall medical costs. Politicians may limit the costs of the medical items that they may be perceived to be less profitable, and increase costs on the medical items perceived to be more profitable. Price controls on drugs will ultimately dissuade most companies from undertaking new investment and the medical advances will be curtailed.
Finally, the confidentially of the patients that are associated with medical practice will be compromised. Although the centralized database system will reduce costs associated with record keeping, protection of patient’s privacy will be difficult as it is accessed by various medical practitioners across the region. The government will also have a way of accessing information about citizens that should be private. According to Harley (56) privacy of a patient will only be maintained if the information provided is shared only between the doctor and the patient; this will not be the case with centralized health information system. Software hackers can easily access the information of the patients.