Healthcare is not a privilege but a fundamental human right that should be accessible to all individuals.
As we move into a new era of technology-driven solutions and artificial intelligence-supported processes, it becomes clear that recognizing healthcare as a right is essential, given the breadth of our tools and the efficiencies we have created.
Yet, even when we make leaps and bounds in industries and realms like government spending, military effectiveness, and bailing out massive corporations, we fail at the fundamental caretaking of our citizens.
Instead of saving for a rainy day, families are forced to make the critical decision of having money for Christmas gifts for the kids or making this month’s health insurance payment.
We can and should do better. The idea behind the Affordable Care Act was to make health insurance more accessible to Americans. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, surely you can recognize that we need health – especially in the wake of Covid 19.
Global Perspective: The Widespread Availability of Universal Healthcare
According to Hudson’s Global Residence Index, nearly all countries, except 43, offer free or universal healthcare to at least 90% of their citizens.
This global trend highlights the importance of prioritizing healthcare as a right and the potential benefits it brings to societies worldwide.
Accessible healthcare contributes to healthier populations, increased productivity, and reduced healthcare disparities. It fosters social cohesion and ensures that individuals have the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest.
Think of it like having a first aid kit on hand at a baseball game. If we can address the bruises, cuts, and scrapes of kids there, we reduce the injuries and long-term stress kids have so they can keep playing.
Debunking Arguments Against Universal Healthcare
Beyond concerns about costs and potential inefficiencies, arguments against universal healthcare often include issues such as lengthy wait times for patients and a hampering of medical entrepreneurship and innovation.
However, it is crucial to examine the evidence and challenge these misconceptions. Research shows that patients in nations with universal coverage generally have similar or shorter wait times than patients in the United States.
In fact, the argument that universal coverage leads to longer wait times is refuted by both international comparisons and historical expansions of coverage within the United States.
Financial Considerations: The Cost Savings of Universal Healthcare
One common concern raised against universal healthcare is the potential financial burden it may place on governments and individuals.
However, a comprehensive analysis suggests that a single-payer, universal healthcare system could lead to significant cost savings.
When you consider the full accounting of both coverage expansion costs and the savings that could be achieved through a significantly more efficient healthcare system.
It is estimated that we could experience a 13% reduction in national healthcare expenditure, amounting to over $450 billion annually.
Think about that. Imagine how many schools we could build, small business initiatives we could bring, or simply reduce taxes for at-risk demographics.
These savings could be achieved by redirecting the financial resources currently spent on healthcare premiums by employers and households, as well as existing government allocations.
Quality of Life: How Universal Healthcare Benefits Everyone
The primary benefit of universal healthcare lies in its ability to improve the quality of life for all individuals.
Access to comprehensive healthcare services enables people to pursue their ambitions, contribute to society, and live without the fear of financial ruin due to medical expenses.
Universal healthcare ensures that no one remains trapped in a job they hate solely because they fear losing healthcare insurance for themselves or their family members.
It eliminates the worry of being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions or reaching the maximum payout under a policy.
Furthermore, under a universal healthcare system, no one has to face the harrowing choice of mortgaging their house to pay for medical bills while waiting for reimbursement from an insurance company that may never come.
The fear of being financially burdened due to an uninsured relative’s accident also becomes a thing of the past.
Universal healthcare protects families from depleting their savings to pay for life-saving treatments, and it ensures that parents too young to qualify for Medicare do not become a financial burden if they become ill.
It alleviates the anxiety of postponing necessary medical examinations or treatments due to financial concerns, which could ultimately worsen an individual’s health condition.
Addressing Inequities: Healthcare Disparities among Essential Workers
While universal healthcare has the potential to bridge healthcare disparities, it is vital to acknowledge the existing inequities in healthcare access.
A 2020 Brookings report found that Black essential workers are more likely to be uninsured compared to their white counterparts , forcing many families to make touch decisions regarding any kind of functional budget.
This highlights the systemic issues that need to be addressed to ensure equal access to healthcare for all individuals, regardless of race or socio-economic status.
Achieving universal healthcare requires addressing structural inequities and implementing policies that prioritize the needs of marginalized communities.
The Burden of Cost: Unsustainable Healthcare
In the United States, healthcare expenditures far exceed those of other developed nations, despite achieving only average clinical outcomes. This discrepancy emphasizes the urgent need for healthcare reform.
The current healthcare system places a significant financial burden on patients and the government, leading to personal bankruptcies and the adoption of restrictive public policies.
Despite the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the goal of expanding coverage, an estimated 30 million people in the United States still lack insurance, while many others possess inadequate coverage.
To establish a truly fair and sustainable healthcare system, it is imperative to explore the implementation of a single-payer system. Such a system would ensure universal coverage, eliminating financial barriers and providing comprehensive care for all individuals.
Recognizing healthcare as a human right is crucial for ensuring equitable access to quality healthcare. The global trend towards universal healthcare, coupled with evidence debunking common arguments against it, highlights the need for a shift in perspective.
By embracing the concept of healthcare as a right, societies can improve the lives of their citizens, address healthcare disparities, and create a more just and compassionate healthcare system for all.
Universal healthcare not only enhances the quality of life but also contributes to the overall well-being of individuals, promotes social equity, and leads to healthier and more productive communities.
It is time to prioritize the human right to healthcare and work toward a future where everyone can access the care they need without facing financial hardship.
Written by: Emmanuel J. Osemota