What is one of the most expensive things in our lives? I will give you a hint, and it is something that we need for the sake of our health. How nice would it be not to have to pay for healthcare? In some countries this is possible, it is paid for by the government. Although this all sounds like it has excellent advantages, there can also be some disadvantages.
Most countries offer free or Universal Healthcare. According to International Insurance.com, that is 32 countries, to be exact. Although it says free, it is not free but paid for indirectly by citizen’s taxes. Now, this may sound terrible, but do we not already have to pay for taxes and then pay for healthcare separately? I would rather know I am getting something like healthcare out of my taxes that my family and I can take advantage of. Now some may say that this is what our tax refund is for. Some, like many people I know, do not get a tax refund. Somehow, they end up paying even more taxes. A downside to having your taxes pay for healthcare is that you may have to pay a co-pay and request for reimbursement. That is still better than paying for a healthcare plan and co-pay like many insurances. Now universal healthcare is very similar to “free” healthcare. Universal healthcare is provided to about 90 percent of the population, also paid for through taxes. Some countries may also provide free healthcare to travelers. Travelers can take advantage of these countries’ immunization days at public health campaigns. Border crossings may offer free malaria testing. Even better, they could visit a university student-based health clinic and receive free testing.
A positive to free healthcare is the fact that healthcare is extended to everyone, no matter the social status or the amount of money you have. It makes it possible for everyone to be treated and have a much longer lifespan. The government regulates a universal healthcare system, this means private companies and the hospital can not inflate the prices. Everyone pays the same, giving everyone equal opportunity at a long and healthy lifestyle. Since the government regulates them, they are prevented from charging extra fees for things like hospital stays or lab tests. Because it is free for everyone, no one is discriminated over age, sex, or income. This reduces the stress and worry of having to figure out how to pay for insurance or enormous co-pays or bills the insurance may not have covered. This also benefits those who can not afford insurance at all. Not to mention all of the insurance fraud that currently occurs in as it is already. Even small businesses benefit from this plan; they no longer have to figure out how to provide healthcare to their employees.
Hospitals will no longer have to worry about not receiving payments from those who cannot afford it. Most countries, like the United States, require hospitals to treat everyone. Without this additional cost, citizens will not have to worry about have bad debt or file for bankruptcy. Imagine how much poverty would decrease if we did not have to pay so much out of pocket for something that helps us stay healthy and alive. Some of the potential drawbacks to free health care would be a blatant abuse of this system. Because health insurance is free, everyone would feel more inclined to get checked for literally every possible potential health risk they may encounter. Free insurance can lead to high costs to the government that become offset even with tax money and could create even longer waiting times at the hospital.
With private insurance companies, those who cannot afford it avoid going to the doctor. Private insurance could cause their symptoms to increase and could cause their immune systems to decrease, causing other health complications. Basically, it leads to a snowball effect. Those who put off going to the doctor because of the fear of the cost could possibly pass away from their symptoms. Symptoms that could have been treated if caught soon enough. This is the sad truth of not having universal or free healthcare.
Not only do the citizens benefit from receiving healthcare at a more affordable rate, but the hospitals do as well. The hospitals do not have to worry about only accepting specific insurances and dealing with all the many different privatized companies. They only have to deal with one system; this causes less stress on the healthcare facilities and its employees.
In the United States, if you are in the lower class of the population, you more than likely qualify for Medicaid, as a last resort, of course. If you are over the age of 65 or disabled, you qualify for Medicare. Now, these programs are similar to universal healthcare they only help those who have low income, disabled, or over a certain age. Both insurances are funded by the government through citizen’s taxes. Now some may say at least we will have insurance once we reach 65. What if we do not make it to 65 because we could not afford healthcare up until that age? This is another reason why the United States and other countries could benefit from universal or even better free healthcare.
So, where does that leave Middle and High class of the population in the United States? The middle class is the one that suffers the most. The middle class makes too much income to qualify for Medicaid and are probably under 65 years old. So what do they do? They have to pay for insurance either through their employer if it’s offered or a private insurance company or option three pay out of pocket. Either way, it does not seem fair to either class of the population.
The sad truth to it is that the middle class is told to save money in case of a rainy day because even with insurance, they may have to pay for co-pays or expensive medication that keeps them alive. Now, if an unexpected emergency happens, they are going to be hit with medical bills.
This has happened to me personally in two different situations. The first was when I first became pregnant with my son. I was under my husband’s insurance he was here in South Carolina which the insurance company considered the South Region and I was in West Virginia in the North Region, I was referred to the Emergency Room due to some pregnancy-related complications. So not going to the emergency room was out of the question. A month later, we received an almost $1,000 bill for random charges like a physician’s fee and things in that nature that the insurance did not cover.
My second situation was when we were in Florida visiting family, and it was the night before we were leaving to come back home. Our son had fallen and hit his head on the tile floor. We drove around for almost an hour trying several different hospitals before we found one that even accepted our insurance. Then we were in the waiting room for hours, and it was after midnight before we were finally called back for them to decide he needed to be transported to the Children’s Hospital the next morning. So once again, we received a bill, this time it was for the Ambulance Ride from one hospital to the other. We wanted my son to be okay, and if that cost me extra, we would just have to deal with it or fight the insurance to pay the bill.
Therefore, most people beg not to be taken in the ambulance. People would much rather drive themselves to the hospital or find someone to take them to avoid being charged. Because this is such a norm for Americans, the number one reason for bankruptcy in the United States is caused by Medical Bills. So, you would think the United States government would try to help its citizens, but for some reason, it is still an issue.
Now let’s talk about the Upper class. Because they have such a large income, they end up paying more in taxes and have to pay more for insurance policies. Now you may think this is a good thing since they can afford it. Is the United States not trying to fight for more equality amongst everyone? This all being said, I genuinely believe the middle class or the average American is the one who suffers the most when it comes to dealing with the healthcare system.
According to the LIVESTRONG.com, some of the cons would be higher taxes and longer wait times. However, to me, I feel this is already an issue in the United States, on top of paying ridiculous prices for healthcare. As far as wait times go, I don’t know if they could be any longer. A few months ago, my husband had to go to the Emergency Room, and we were in the waiting room for 9 hours before we were finally called back to be seen. There is no such thing as a quick visit to the Emergency Room.
Now some may say they do not want their tax wages going towards someone that does not work. However, our taxes already fund the medical system for those of low income and need assistance.
Even more than long wait times is the quality of treatment you may be provided. Some countries that have jumped on the free insurance bandwagon say the quality of the treatment provided is inadequate. More so, the medication that is provided is also low quality and less effective. This is coming from a country that has a loss of gross percentage. This does not apply to all countries using the free healthcare plan.
Due to free and universal healthcare being more equal and regulated by the government. This may cause a shortage in the number of Doctors and Nurses available. They may all be paid the same or similar wages or salaries. For example, in Canada and England, healthcare providers are considered employees of the government rather than being employees of privatized companies. This may cause people not to want to go into healthcare at all. Because there are more patients to be treated, it forces healthcare providers to be knowledgeable and experienced at their job, and they may no longer be able to specialize in one thing. Another downfall may be the fact that the hospitals may be overcrowded, which factors into the long wait times it may cause. People may take advantage of having the services provided to them at no extra cost.
The United States faces a lot more future challenges with rising healthcare prices. More and more Americans are just going to choose to not have healthcare at all, simply because they cannot afford it and probably do not fall into the assistance program. Another challenge that we may be facing soon is the amount of experience our newer generations of healthcare providers may have. This may also cause poor quality in service provided with the extreme prices. While we are on the subject of the future, some say they would like for healthcare to be provided at home and at a more affordable price if only this were not just a hot trend but a reality.
Now do not let these disadvantages turn you away from the thought of free or universal healthcare. In the end, something must change. America cannot keep punishing its citizens for working hard and needing healthcare. In my opinion, a solution for all of this would be for us to consider free healthcare and take a closer look at the other 32 countries that have implemented this policy. So, you may be wondering what it is like for the hospitals in these countries with the government controlling them. The difference from American hospitals is the government controls and regulates how much they can charge for everything and make sure it is equal across the board. This may help prevent corrupt systems and stop people from insurance fraud.
It is vital for everyone to do their research before choosing a side on a subject. Everyone must look at all the advantages and disadvantages.
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