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Healthcare Costs and Implications

This story was partially published in the November issue of Prospective

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Healthcare Costs and Implications

Bryce Rhodes, Writer

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 Universal Healthcare has been promoted by some politicians as protection for the poor and sickly, but others view it as a burden on the people. The taxpayer is required to support a government infamous for being wasteful and discriminatory under a single payer system, but it might just be the only way for sick poor people to get quality care. Universal Healthcare has been called a right, but claiming something to be a right is not enough to ensure equality.

 A single payer healthcare system covers the healthcare costs of citizens using tax money. There are considerable drawbacks to embracing a fully single-payer system, especially in the beginning stages. The Health Policy Center has estimated that Universal Healthcare in America, as Bernie Sanders once defined it, would cost upwards of 32 trillion dollars. Inflation would run rampant if a foreign nation called us on the debt we would have to accrue to implement this system.

 This number would only grow based on the progress of the classic example of a single payer system: Canada. According to Don Drummond, Chief Economist for Health Care Reform in Ontario, 80% of Ontario’s government budget will be spent on health care by 2030. Universal Healthcare would equalize the playing board, but could devastate the American national budget in the process.

 America has its own form of a single payer system, Medicare, which is a health insurance program administered by the government. The difference between America and other developed nations is American citizens have the option to pay for better health care outside of the government’s plan.

 In Canada under Universal Healthcare, “less severe” patients may unfortunately wait months before a spot opens up. If a patient is able to be admitted quickly, the Huffington Post reports that “the median wait was 8.8 hours for a hospital bed.” Because the government controls the system, every procedure has to be run through a bureaucratic system of red tape.

 According to Investor’s Business Daily, British doctors are so limited by the single payer system that “from 2008 to 2012, more than 8,000 doctors left [the country because] they had been abused by the long hours.”

 In a single payer system, the government controls the market and sets prices for medicine, taking the incentive away from pharmaceutical companies to find new drugs and cures. According to the American Enterprise Institute, “85% of the drugs approved by the FDA come from the private sector.” This means that a majority of the drugs that help people’s conditions do not come from a country with universal healthcare.

 Treating diseases is a profitable business, but not in a society that constricts the free market. Countries that do have universal healthcare have few medical discoveries because their private sector is not functional.

 While there are drawbacks, there are also many benefits to having universal healthcare in America, such as the lowering of the individual’s cost. According to an article in CNBC titled “Medical Bills are the Biggest Cause of US Bankruptcies,” 56 million people struggled to pay health care related costs in America. 10 million of those people had some insurance to help with the costs, but most weren’t able to pay the deductibles of up to $10,000 a year.

 Under universal healthcare, the government would control the price of medication and negotiate the price of medical services. There would not be multiple health insurers that require administration, because all of them would answer to government, which in turn would lead to less wasted money.

 Administration costs are the main reason for high healthcare costs, which is not nearly as much a problem for every other developed nation that just so happens to have universal health care.

 Universal healthcare also allows for a more healthy populace, because preventative procedures would be provided for free. The CDC reports that 46 percent of ER patients used the emergency room as their primary care before Obamacare, because they could not afford expensive health care. Many people do not change careers because they are afraid of not being able to pay for medicine or treatment if they get sick.

 Health care is unequal in America based on wealth, and medical procedures become more expensive as the demand for health care increases. U.S. News reports that many doctors have stopped accepting Medicaid and are beginning to stop accepting Medicare, because they are being told by the government that they can’t do certain procedures that aren’t covered by the government insurance plan. Doctors can’t perform some surgeries because they are not supported under the current healthcare system in America, so the doctors raise prices of procedures so they can stay afloat.

 There are not price caps set by the government in America, so companies can increase medical costs as they wish to target the wealthy. With universal healthcare, this price raising and company greed would be greatly reduced, because the government would control the costs and insurers.

 The government would have to be trusted to allocate these funds fairly, because the decisions regarding what procedures can be done, who gets them and the doctor’s pay would be decided by bureaucrats. Deregulation of the healthcare system was a past remedy for health coverage disparity before the Affordable Care Act and would allow health care professionals that do x-rays, eye exams or other procedures to be competitive with others.

 The consumer would benefit from the competition with lower prices, and the poor would be more likely to afford health care. On the other hand, there would be a certain percentage of people left that would not be able to afford healthcare even with the deregulated market.

 The choice is whether or not everyone getting health coverage is worth the bureaucratic problems, monetary cost and probable decrease in care quality. All other developed nations have universal health care, and Medicare will probably be our version if and when it is expanded.

 Ideally, everyone would have universal health coverage, but the inefficiency and nature of bureaucracy should be considered. These problems might arise as America attempts to become more equal, and an entirely single payer system would create temporary dysfunction that must be weighed against what America is willing to sacrifice for equality.

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