“America is the technological superpower, the wealthiest nation in the world, and spends significantly more of its gross national product, and spends more per person, than any other nation in the world on health care. So where, then, does America stand on health?” (Lerner & Loman, 2005, p. 1). The purpose of this essay is to discuss and explore whether U.S. health care should be a right or a privilege. Many Americans feel that although the United States leads most of the world in medical advances and technology, the healthcare system is broken. A great number of people go without the care they desperately need, due to a lack of adequate insurance. Uninsured Americans
Lack of health insurance coverage for 46 million Americans is one of the nation’s most pressing problems. While most elderly Americans have coverage through Medicare and over 60% of non-elderly Americans receive health coverage through employer-sponsored plans, many workers and their families remain uninsured because their employer does not offer coverage or they cannot afford the cost of coverage. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (2011) reported that the “ percentage of children under 18 who are uninsured rose from 10.8 percent in 2004 to 11.2 percent in 2005, while the number of uninsured children climbed from 7.9 million in 2004 to 8.3 million in 2005” ( ¶ 2). Lack of insurance is much more common among people with low incomes. “Some 24.4 percent of people with incomes below $25,000 were uninsured in 2005; almost triple the rate of 8.5 percent among people with incomes over $75,000” (Center on Budget and Policy, 2011, ¶). African Americans and Hispanics were much more likely to be uninsured than white, non-Hispanic people. As a result, millions of Americans go without health insurance.
The High Cost of Healthcare
Healthcare costs are driven, in part, by Medicare and private insurance payment policies that encourage doctors to order more tests and procedures. The larger availability of specialists and hospital beds also leads doctors to send patients to hospitals more frequently than provides any value for patient health. According to The American Council on Exercise (2006), “the Health and Human Services Department reported that U.S. businesses pay more than $74 billion in health care costs each year for employees who smoke and an extra $82 billion per year in lost productivity. American industry loses $32 billion and 132 million workdays a year due to employees’ premature deaths associated with cardio vascular disease; lowered productivity due to sickness and disability cost billions more” (¶ 2).
There are many factors that are responsible for the high cost of health care in the U. S. One of the leading drivers of the growth in health care costs in the U.S. is the way in which providers are paid; primarily, a fee-for service by insurance companies. When providers are paid for the volume and concentration of delivered services why should anyone be surprised when that’s exactly what they deliver? Another leading factor is the introduction of new medical technologies and prescription drugs of all types that drives up patient costs. When combined, the cost becomes astronomical to both the insured and non-insured. These factors continue to be an engine for the problems that employers, insurers and patients face regarding costs. To make healthcare affordable the cost has to go down. In order for the cost to go down doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies would have to charge less for their services and the cost of medicines. Health Care: The Largest Industry of Employment
“As one of the largest industries in 2008, healthcare provided 14.3 million jobs for wage and salary workers. Ten of the 20 fastest growing occupations are healthcare related. Healthcare will generate 3.2 million new wage and salary jobs between 2008 and 2018, more than any other industry, largely in response to rapid growth in the elderly population” (U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011). Most workers have jobs that require less than 4 years of college education, but health diagnosing and treating practitioners are highly educated. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2011) also stated that about 595,800 establishments make up the healthcare industry; they vary greatly in terms of size, staffing patterns, and organizational structures. About 76 percent of healthcare establishments are offices of physicians, dentists, or other health practitioners while hospitals constitute to only a small percent of all healthcare establishments; employing 35 percent of all workers. Healthcare: A Right
President Obama stated the following “I think it should be a right for every American. … for my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about the health care system in America (Jinchi, 2008). Polls show that 64% of American say health care should be a right (Healthcare.procon.org). Opponents argue that using tax revenue to provide health care to all Americans amounts to socialism and would decrease the quality and availability of health care for those who work hard to get medical coverage.
They also argue that it is not the government’s responsibility to guarantee health coverage. Health care cost start with the doctors, hospitals, and drug companies. The problem with Healthcare is that it cannot be solved without violating the Constitution. If health care is a right, it will also be a responsibility and an obligation to the government to ensure every person receives proper and equal medical care at any medical facility regardless of race, religion, status, preexisting conditions or age. Public proposals of universal healthcare for every citizen have been the focus of much political debate. Children do not have the right to choose an insurance plan for themselves, and many parents do not want or qualify for insurance. Clearly, justice for these children and others in a similar situation demands a health insurance plan that covers them, even if their parents choose not to be covered. Healthcare: A Privilege
Health care in America is not a right. Health care is a product that can be purchased by an individual or by an employer for an employee. Most of the nonsensical labeling of it being a right is just another tactic to make the working tax paying citizens pay for those who cannot or will not provide for themselves. Many times people who are crying loudly about their rights are those who want others to provide them free services and goods. Everyone has access to health care; however, not everyone is willing to pay for it. Being poor or old is not an excuse. Medicare and Medicaid already cover those groups. It is not the working taxpaying citizen who is crying for health care rights – they generally are provided subsidized insurance through their employer. Small businesses may not offer health care insurance but an individual still has the privilege to purchase as much insurance or choose to pay for services directly as he or she see fit. Healthcare around the world
Healthcare varies around the world. Almost all wealthy nations provide universal health care (the US is an exception). “Health provision is challenging due to the costs required as well as various social, cultural, political and economic conditions” (Golbalissues.org). The costs of Healthcare around the world are very interesting in comparison to the U.S. “In Australia, the annual cost of health care per capita is $2,886; in Canada; $2,998, in France; $3,048, in Germany; $2,983, in Japan; $2,249, in the United Kingdom; 2,317, and in the United States, the annual cost of health care per capita is $5,711.(Pbs.org). While many factors contribute to how health care is provide around the world, population, economic strength and political opinions are key in influencing the type of health care system that would work best for a particular country.
There isn’t any reason think that the United States cannot follow in the footsteps of other countries and assure decent health care to all of its citizens. Universal health care does not have to be “socialized medicine”. In summary, the health care market could operate much more efficiently and effectively if individuals were buying their own coverage or arranging service plans directly with doctors and not with insurance companies; an unnecessary middleman. The insurance companies are the dictators who set policies, prices and force an increase in costs. Health care is best when the doctor and patient are the only ones in the room and not the pharmaceutical or insurance companies. Health care should be made accessible and affordable for everyone. The country can adapt to change, if leadership demands change; but people are unsure of how this change should be approached. Allowing people to have complete independence in terms of healthcare is American as baseball and apple pie.
Johnson, Nancy J.; Johnson, Lane P. (Eds.)
1st Edition., 2010, XVII, 285 p.