Free Health Care in America

Introduction

The US government has historically taken a keen interest in the health of its citizens. As far back as the beginning of the 1900s, President Theodore Roosevelt declared that “nothing can be more important to a state than its public health: the state’s paramount concern should be the health of its people” (Gallup and Newport 135). Despite these, the United States is classified as the nation with the most expensive, and yet inefficient, health care system among developed nations.

An expensive health care system translates to an increasing proportion of the population being unable to access the much needed medical care. The New York Times reports that according to census survey carried out in the year 2007, an estimated 45.6 million people in the USA were uninsured and hence unlikely to receive comprehensive medical care from hospitals (1). Due to the perceived inefficiencies, there has been agreement that the current health care system is faulty and therefore in need of radical changes to make it better.

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Problem Statement

Majority of American’s are greatly dissatisfied with the current health care system which is extremely expensive and highly inefficient. While an effective system can be deemed to be one which is efficient, acceptable and at the same time equitable, the current system is lacking in this attributes.

The aim of this paper will be to analyze the effects that free health care system in America would have. This paper will argue that a health care system which guarantees free health care for all Americans is the most effective system and the government should therefore adopt such a system.

A Case for Free Health Care

Free health care would result in a healthier nation since people would visit the doctors when necessary and follow prescriptions. Research by Wisk et al. indicated that both middle and lower class families were suffering from the high cost of health care (1). Some families opted to avoid going to the doctor when a member of the family is sick due to the high cost of visiting the doctor and the insurance premiums associated with health care.

In the event that they go to the doctor, they do not follow prescriptions strictly so as to reduce cost. Brown reveals that “60 percent of uninsured people skipped taking dosages of their medication or went without it because it cost too much” (6). Such practices are detrimental to a person’s health and they cost more in the long run.

The last few years have been characterized by financial crises and recessions which have negatively affected the financial well being of many Americans. In these economic realities, the cost of health care has continued to rise to levels that are unaffordable to many Americans. This loss of access to health care has led to people being troubled and generally frustrated. A report by Brown indicates that the price for prescription drugs in the US has escalated therefore becoming a financial burden for the citizens (6).

The productivity of this people is thereby greatly decreased as they live in uncertainty as to the assurance of their health and thereby spend more time worrying instead of being engaged in meaningful activities that can lead the country into even greater heights of prosperity. Free health care would lead to a peace of mind and therefore enable people to be more productive.

Since medical care is not free, many people have to make do with curative care since they cannot afford to visit medical facilities for checkups or any other form of preventive medical care. This assertion is corroborated by Colliver who reveals that many people are opting to go without preventative care or screening tests that might prevent more serious health problems due to the expenses (1).

Research shows that approximately 18,000 adults die annually due to lack of timely medical intervention (The New York Times 1). This is mostly as a result of lack of a comprehensive insurance cover which means that the people cannot receive medical attention until the disease has progressed into advanced stages. This is what has made medical care so expensive since “sick patients need more care than relatively healthy ones” (Sutherland, Fisher, and Skinner 1227).

This is an opinion shared by Sebelius who reveals that 85% of medical costs incurred in the country arise from people ailing from chronic conditions (1). She further notes that if screened early, these diseases such as diabetes and obesity can be prevented thus saving the medical cost to be incurred in their treatment. It therefore makes sense to have a health care system that makes it possible for everyone to access preventive care thus curbing these conditions before they are fully blown.

A Case Against Free Health Care

While most people assume that free health care will result in better services as more people will be able to access health care, this is not the case. The increase in people who are eligible for health care will lead to an increase in the patients’ level meaning that one may have to wait for long before receiving care due to shortage of medical personnel or the rationing of care.

A European doctor, Crespo Alphonse, reveals that when health care is free, people start overusing it with negative implications for the entire system (AP). In addition to this, free health care would invariably lead to cost cutting strategies by hospitals.

This would lead to scenario where finding specialized care is hard and the rate of medical mistakes would increase significantly. As a matter of fact, a survey on Switzerland hospitals found that medical errors had jumped by 40% owing to the introduction of mandatory health insurance (AP). While it is true that free health care will increase the number of people visiting the doctor, this may be a positive thing since it will encourage preventive care as opposed to the current emphasis on curative care.

Free health care is a move towards a socialistic system. As it is, the US is a nation that is built on strong capitalistic grounds. This is against the strong capitalistic grounds on which the United States society is build on. While detractors of the private insurance firms are always quick to point out that the firms make billions of dollars from the public, they fail to consider the tax that these firms give back to the federal government (Singer 1).

Free health care would render players in the health industry such as private insurance companies unprofitable. Free health care will bring about a shift from a profit oriented system to a more people oriented system. Without money as a motivation, research efforts will plummet thereby leading to a decrease in the medical advancement as investment in research will not be as extensive (Singer 1).

The Associate Press reveals that doctors may also lack to be as motivated if they are no incentives and thereby the quality of their work may weaken (1). As such, a free health care system would have far reaching consequences for the economy of the nation since the health care industry is a profitable industry for many.

Conclusion

The Healthcare system is one of the most important components of the U.S. social system since full productivity cannot be achieved without good health. This paper has argued that a free health care system would be the most effective system for America. To reinforce this assertion, the paper has articulated the benefits that the country would accrue from free health care.

With free health care, all Americans would be able to access health services when they need it leading to increased quality of life. In addition, many people would make use of preventive healthcare services, therefore reducing the financial burden that the expensive curative services result in.

The paper has taken care to point out that free health care has some demerits, most notably of which is overloading the health services with a high number of patients. Even so, the observably advantages to be reaped from the system far outweigh the perceived risks. As it is, decades of reform on the US health care system have failed to provide any lasting solution to the problem.

Making health care free for all may be the strategy that will provide a solution for the ideal health care system that has thus far remained elusive. From the arguments presented in this paper, it can irrefutably be stated that free health care will result in a better health care system for the country.

Works Cited

Associate Press. (AP). Europe’s free health care has a hefty price tag. 7 May. 2009. Web 01 Aug. 2011. http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-07-05-europe-health_N.htm Jan 2008. Web. 12 June 2011

Brown, Paul. Paying the Price: The High Cost of Prescription Drugs for Uninsured Americans. U.S. PIRG Education Fund, 2006.

Colliver, Victoria. “Jump in middle-income Americans who go without health insurance,” San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate.com), April 26, 2006.

Gallup, Andrew, and Newport Francis. The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion. Gallup Press, 2005. Print.

Sebelius, Kathleen. Health Insurance Reform Will Benefit All Americans. 15 Aug. 2009. Web. 01 August 2011 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/03/AR2009080302223.html

Singer, Peter. Why We Must Ration Health Care. July 15, 2009. 24 Nov. 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/magazine/19healthcare-t.html?_r=1.

Sutherland, Jason., Fisher Elliott, and Skinner Jonathan. “Getting Past Denial – The High Cost of Health Care in the United States”. New England Journal of Medicine 361;13, 2009).

The New York Times. The Uninsured. 22 Aug. 2009. Web. 01 Aug. 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/opinion/23sun1.html?_r=1

Wisk, Lauren. High Cost a Key Factor in Deciding to Forgo Health Care. 01 June. 2011. Web. 01 Aug. 2011. http://www.med.wisc.edu/news-events/news/researcher-examines-cost-to-be-healthy/31290

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