As of late, several debates have taken place in all corners of American society regarding our policy on healthcare. From the living room to the Senate, insurance-based healthcare has faced off against Universal Healthcare in an epic battle that is not resolving itself anytime soon.
Universal Healthcare received its first high ranking political recognition by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States. In his 1944 State of the Union Address, Roosevelt laid out his grand idea for a “Second Bill of Rights,” which guaranteed several economic aspects in the common American’s life, including permanent access to medical care. Roosevelt wasn’t alone in the Western World with this thinking, as in 1948 the National Health Service was established in the United Kingdom following several major social reforms immediately after World War Two.
In the modern world today, Roosevelt’s ideas live on, with nearly every single industrialized nation-state having some form of Universal Healthcare. The only exception is the country of Roosevelt’s birth — the United States. In the United States today, an insurance-based healthcare system is in place and it is the leading causes of bankruptcy. This system is highly bureaucratic and with immense administrative deficiencies. Medical institutions are forced to maintain expensive administrative staff and evidence shows us that over 30% of American health expenses are spent on the upkeep of this staff. This wastes resources and has a negative effect on health outcomes. If it wasn’t obvious enough, the United States has the most costly healthcare system in the Industrialized World. The high costs come with no benefits either, as the U.S. has lower health rates and lower life expectancy than European states.
On the flip side, Universal Healthcare would do the United States economic wonders. To begin with, a Universal Healthcare system would save the United States $17+ trillion in the span of a decade. A few basic structures and numbers can showcase how Universal Healthcare saves all of us money. The National Healthcare Expenditure is an excellent institution to analyze, as it illustrates the amount of spending on healthcare in both the private and public sectors. Statistics from the NHE shows us that health-related costs have gone up by over 4% and every American forks out over $10,000 per annum, meaning health-related costs are at an astonishingly high $3.3 trillion yearly. To make this figure even more appalling, the global average for per person spending in regards to Healthcare was a little over $3,000, a number unearthed by a study conducted by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. A similar study conducted by the Urban Institute showed that Bernie Sander’s “Medicare for All” plan would save upwards of $22 trillion in private spending.
However, Universal Healthcare does more than save you money. It generates wealth and saves jobs. Over a million jobs alone would be saved by Universal Healthcare and the “Job Lock,” as we know it, would essentially be defeated. The Job Lock is a social concept that explains why employees aren’t freely able to move from one profession to another and have an incredible fear of being fired. In essence, if an employee was to leave his/her current scene of work, they would lose all their benefits. In the United States, the most common source of healthcare is employer-based health care. So until workers find work and meet the required threshold to obtain benefits from their employers, they’re in the dark in terms of health coverage and benefits.
As a teenager, engaging in any political discussion with those elder to me always proves to be difficult. I am always somewhat marginalized, with my proposals and ideas not being taken as seriously, despite the lengths I go to to ensure my political ideas have structure and backbone. This is no different with Universal Healthcare. Time and time again I am always told that “it’s too expensive,” “I’m not paying for someone’s healthcare” or “look at how taxed European nations are.” The fact of the matter is that I do understand the costs of healthcare. I have never signed off on a payment, sure, but 42 rounds of Chemotherapy highlighted the critical flaws of insurance-based healthcare and the collateral damage it can cause.
To put it into perspective, long-term health issues are bound to financially ruin someone and mentally batter them. Out of the two years in which I underwent my treatment, my mother, who is a single mother, was only granted one month of paid leave. Despite this being a miraculous development for American standards, it is clearly obvious that this is not enough time to attend to a sick child. As my mother was forced to take more and more time off work, less capital flowed in and debts piled up. Prescriptions, bills, hospital co-payments and valet fees, even the price of food, seemed daunting and unaffordable. One year, my mother made less than half of her annual income and we were forced to move 5 times during this period. The only breaks we had received were from the amazing people in a handful of charity groups. Their contributions will never be forgotten.
Universal Healthcare does more than save you money. It saves you from stressful nights and potential heartaches, literally and figuratively. As of now, due to laws under Obamacare, many of our health rights are guaranteed. However, with a Republican-controlled Congress and notions being pushed for repealing and replacing Obamacare, we cannot know for sure how much longer we will have laws protecting us from discrimination at the hands of health insurers. As of now, anyone with pre-existing conditions is protected from economic discrimination and cannot be turned away by insurance companies. Women have access to abortion services and federally-funded programs like Planned Parenthood (PP), which is highly important to women’s healthcare. However, legislation pushed by Republicans in recent times proves to us that the GOP wants to do away with these laws and PP. The Republican-introduced American Health Care Act contained amendments to defund Planned Parenthood, stifle protections for those with pre-existing conditions and cuts to Medicaid, an important program for working-class citizens with low incomes.
Many of you are probably scratching your heads and asking yourself, “Why doesn’t the United States have a Universal Healthcare System?” The unfortunate answer is that the U.S. Healthcare industry has powerful lobbying organizations that value profit over lives and quality of care. In fact, Healthcare lobbyists spent big on the American Health Care Act. One of the many solutions to get around lobbyists is to place your trust in small donor campaigns. This ensures the candidate in question is representing your interests and not the interests of corporations seeking to put their interests first and undermine our Republic.
Universal Healthcare would guarantee our access to health services, regardless of your age, gender or socio-economic status. It also saves us trillions of dollars, improves our quality of health care and drastically improves our living standards. It eliminates the inefficiencies of our highly bureaucratic system and ensures all of our spending on healthcare is dedicated to improving the system itself and having 1/4 spent on administrative upkeep. If you believe in this cause, I highly encourage you to become politically active. Call your Senator, your Representative, and research before you vote. A more humane and affordable alternative to insurance-based healthcare is awaiting us, do your part and demand we get the care we not only need but deserve.