Photo from Bernie Sanders 2017 Ohio rally, Don’t Take Our Health Care at Live Express. (Photo in the public domain)
Universal health care is a system that provides quality health care for all citizens regardless of ability to pay. General income and payroll taxes from citizens cover the cost of health care. This has always been a topic of debate but recently has gotten more media attention after the presidential debates in 2016 and 2020.
The United States is the only one of the 33 developed countries that does not have universal health care. In order for universal public health care to start, the government would have to finance $32 trillion for the first ten years. In 2018 the average consumer spent $4,968 on health insurance yearly. In 2017 only 10% of people not covered under private insurance had to pay out of pocket the rest Medicaid and Medicare covered. Below are the average costs of hospital/clinic visits without healthcare aid.
Average Costs Per Visit
Americans spend more on prescription drugs than any other country. As you can see, healthcare is not cheap. The median household income in the US is $56,516 annually. 133 million Americans have chronic diseases according to the National Health Council, that is more than 40% of the nation’s population. That 40% of Americans would most likely be spending thousands of dollars for necessary medical assistance and prescriptions.
Stan Dorn, author of Urban Institute Study, said people ages 25-64 were 25% more likely to die with a lack of health insurance. Almost 25% of Americans do not have access to health insurance. Over 101,000 die yearly because they can not afford it.
Movies like John Q address realistic situations where someone is in dire need of medical attention and is not able to get it due to low funds. An example is New Jersey resident Amamaria Markle diagnosed with stage four cancer. After working as a clerk for a firm for 20 years they terminated her, because of her condition. She gained health insurance coverage under Cobra, a health insurance company for employees who have lost their job or are receiving few hours. “It wasn’t financially sustainable to keep paying Cobra out of pocket. On top of premiums you still have to pay the bills. We kept getting lots of bills for surgeries, chemotherapy, all these treatments, all these bills kept coming in,” Laura Valderrana, Markle’s daughter, expressed in an interview with Michael Sainato. Due to the increase in cost and debt Markle had to stop receiving treatment. She died in September of 2018 at the age of 52.
Some people argue: Why should their tax money go toward paying for other people’s health care? It is the same thing as taxes going toward paying for public education, military, public transportation, etc., even if you do not use it you pay for it. By paying taxes you are doing your civic duty to better the country and protect/aid your fellow Americans. Providing quality, accessible, affordable health care for all citizens is just as important as any of the things Americans tax money goes toward.
Universal health care can greatly benefit the U.S., although it is not free, it will be cheaper than paying out of pocket or for private insurance for low-income people. This may reduce the number of emergency room and urgent care patients. It will also lower healthcare discrimination, make prescriptions more available, lower poverty rates, and ultimately save lives. Universal Health Care is necessary if the United States intends to provide the best for its citizens. It is not a flawless plan and will bring extensive expenses at first, but if implemented it can be extremely beneficial for American citizens.