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COVID-19 drives need for America’s universal health care


The US is the only one of 33 developed countries that do not have a system of universal health care. Unlike the UK, Canada, South Korea, and Singapore, where the government provides public health care to all permanent residents and uses general taxation to cover the costs, the US has a drastically different system. Health care facilities are largely owned and operated by private sector businesses. As the US health system, including Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Veterans Health Administration, does not provide healthcare to the country’s entire population, most citizens are covered by a combination of private insurance and various federal and state programs. As the pandemic is momentarily forcing governments to focus more on their health care systems and in what ways they must help, voices are growing even stronger to establish universal health care.

The US should establish the universal health system as soon as possible because it will nationalize service in the healthcare industry for a lower cost and equal quality of services, and also because it will alleviate the current problem of people not being able to afford with a lowered cost of healthcare altogether.  

Standardization, or nationalization in service, refers to a framework of agreements in which all relevant parties in the industry. It is the most needed characteristic for a nation’s health care due to its efficiency of decreasing variation for patients and increasing quality and safety to reduce costs. An increased number of patients’ cases demonstrate that America’s patterns of care are widely variant, where variation leads to clinical suffering, having to compromise safety and reliability. However, standardization of health care will help to increase the uniformity of practice, increase safety, and may be possible to reduce costs. A new study from academic researchers discovered that 66.5 percent of Americans’ bankruptcies were associated with medical issues. Even more, 530, 000 families become bankrupt each year because of medical issues and bills, and with nationalization in service, it will reduce costs overall, which is the most urgent reason to why the US should adopt one. Many patients owe hundreds and thousands of dollars in medical bills, and have to file bankruptcy, having to live on the streets with “no end in sight,” one patient said to The Guardian. As these statistics show how people have to suffer without insurance, it is highly likely that a standardized health care system will solve these problems to a certain extent. 

South Korea is an example of how world-class health care provides highly efficient and nationalized service at a low cost. Although Korean citizens pay a lower cost than what the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations pay on average, Korean citizens’ health level is ranked fifth and exceeds the health indexes of most OECD nations. The UN has recognized Korea as an exemplary case for a quality health service with standardized health care and insurance programs. Just like Korea has achieved this world-class quality level of health care within 40 years, there are plenty of programs in which the US can refer to establish a universal health care system.

Although the continuous problem of high healthcare costs has existed before the 21st century, the pandemic has now revealed that this issue is a much more serious and threatening issue, especially for the underprivileged who cannot afford to go to hospitals despite their health circumstances. As the pandemic has made the US healthcare crisis direr, supporters of universal health care argue to guarantee health care as a human right for 87 million Americans who are uninsured or underinsured. The pandemic has now made the defense of the US health care virtually impossible as more than 36 million lost their jobs and their associated health care benefits. Another aspect that increased the need for universal health care is how the massive level of income and wealth inequality in America is even further magnified by health care that financially ravages the most vulnerable people. These major health outbreaks are affecting black, Hispanic, and Native American and undocumented immigrants, as well as the incarcerated and the homeless most harshly, which is another reason why a government must act to protect them with a nationalized universal health care system. The most upsetting aspect is how the US still spends nearly $11,000 on healthcare for every adult and child, which is more than twice the average of other major developed nations. Even with these high spendings, the US lags behind most other developed nations, in most aspects from maternal deaths to life expectancy and infant mortality. 

Those who oppose universal health care claim that the whole system itself will be too expensive, that the government cannot afford it, and that healthy people would have to pay for others’ medical care. Statistics show that the sickest five percent of the population creates 50 percent of total health care costs, while the wealthiest 50 percent only create three percent of costs. Others also argue that a government cannot mandate labor for standardized care. Although many oppose universal health care for various reasons, the US must still adopt it not only because it is arguably the richest, and the most developed nation does not provide healthcare to all populations. By looking into many other developed nations’ programs that the nation’s majority population approves of, such as the national health insurance system of Canada, France, Germany and Switzerland, single-payer health care that covers all residents of Britain, and a mixed health plan of Australia, examples suggest that the US is also indeed capable of establishing a nationalized universal health care. 

Supporters of universal health care in the US often ask the question of why only the US cannot do it, while all other countries can. There are many ways that universal health care can work. Politicians that support the passage of universal health care in Congress present several solutions such as raising taxes on the very rich (billionaires) or rich companies, to pay premiums or additional taxes to pay for health care. These funds raised either by the riches or by everyone will provide the security health blankets for all citizens, and ideally, with government supervision and regulation for this health care system, everyone will have access to quality treatments at a generally lowered cost.

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