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Universal health care is a health care system in which all residents of a geographic or political entity have their health care paid for by the government, regardless of medical condition[1].

What is covered under universal health care[edit | edit source]

Universal health care systems vary in what services are covered completely, covered partially, or not covered at all. Some of these services may include medically necessary services from physicians, physical therapy, occupational therapy, mammography screenings, immunization services, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV testing, optometry and opticianry services, alcohol and drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation services, mental health services, gambling addiction services, dentistry services, prescription drugs, medical supplies and appliances, podiatry services, chiropractic services, emergency medical transportation, nursing home care, and home care services[2].

How universal health care systems are funded[edit | edit source]

The majority of universal health care systems are funded primarily by tax revenue. Some nations, such as Germany and France, employ a multi-payer system in which health care is funded by private and public contributions [3].

What does "single-payer" mean?[edit | edit source]

The term, "single-payer," refers to a health care system in which only one entity is billed for all medical costs, typically a government-run universal health care agency or department[4]. Instead of billing the patient directly, government agencies (such as Medicare or DSHS), and any number of private insurance companies, a doctor or pharmacist need only bill the universal health care agency. This service is also offered in the private sector by entities known as "cash flow companies" in the medical billing industry. Such entities provide the benefit of single-payer, including reduced paperwork and guaranteed payment. However, these benefits are often neutralized by the fees associated with employing a cash flow company's services. Such fees typically would not exist in a government-run universal health care system, since a government agency does not need to concern itself with turning a profit.

Countries with universal health care[edit | edit source]

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Seychelles[5],South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and The United Kingdom are among many countries that have various types of universal health care systems [3].

Support for universal health care[edit | edit source]

Common arguments waged from supporters of universal health care systems are:

  • Health care is a right.[6][7]
  • Provides coverage to all citizens regardless of ability to pay.[8]
  • Health care increasingly unaffordable for businesses and individuals.[8]
  • Universal health care would provide for uninsured adults who may forgo treatment needed for chronic health conditions[1].
  • Reduces wastefulness and inefficiencies in the delivery of health care.[8]
  • A centralized national database makes diagnosis and treatment easier for doctors.[8]
  • Medical professionals can concentrate on treating patients rather than on administrative duties.[8]
  • Encourages patients to seek preventive care enabling problems to be detected and treated earlier.[8]
  • The profit motive adversely affects the cost and quality of health care.[2]

Opposition to universal health care[edit | edit source]

Common arguments waged from opponents of universal health care systems are:

  • Health care is not a right.[9][10]
  • Increased waiting times.[9]
  • Poorer quality of care.[9]
  • Unequal access and health disparities still exist in some universal health care systems.[9]
  • Government agencies are less efficient due to bureaucracy.[8][9]
  • Citizens do not curb their drug costs and doctor visits; thus increasing costs.[8]
  • Must be funded with higher taxes and/or spending cuts in other areas.[8]
  • Profit motives, competition, and individual ingenuity lead to greater cost control and effectiveness.[8]
  • Uninsured citizens can sometimes still receive health and emergency care from alternative sources such as nonprofits and government-run hospitals.[8]
  • Government-mandated procedures reduce doctor flexibility and lead to poor patient care.[8]
  • Healthy people who take care of themselves have to pay for the burden of those who smoke, are obese, etc.[8]
  • Some systems have banned citizens and physicians from selling services outside the system, forcing universal compliance with one system, which some say violates human liberties.
  • Loss of private practice options and possible reduced pay dissuades many would-be doctors from pursuing the profession.[8]
  • Causes loss of insurance industry jobs and other business closures in the private sector.[8]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Massachusetts Nursing Association. "Single Payer Health Care: A Nurses Guide to Single Payer Reform."
  2. Saskatchewan Health. "Coverage".
  3. 3.0 3.1 Physicians for a National Health Program"International Health Systems".
  4. Physicians for a National Health Program"What is Single Payer?".
  5. Ministry of Health - Seychelles
  6. Center for Economic and Social Rights. "The Right to Health in the United States of America: What Does it Mean?" October 29, 2004.
  7. National Health Care for the Homeless Council. "Human Rights, Homelessness and Health Care".
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14 Messerli, Joe. "Should the Government Provide Free Universal Health Care for All Americans?" March 1, 2006.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Goodman, John. "Five Myths of Socialized Medicine." Cato Institute: Cato's Letter. Winter, 2005.
  10. Sade RM. "Medical care as a right: a refutation." N Engl J Med. 1971 Dec 2;285(23):1288-92. PMID 5113728. (Reprinted as "The Political Fallacy that Medical Care is a Right.")

See also[edit | edit source]

Examples[edit | edit source]

Related topics[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Supporting universal health care[edit | edit source]

Opposing universal health care[edit | edit source]

Neutral[edit | edit source]

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