Americans are becoming increasingly confused about universal health care and if it is even a plausible solution to a broken health care system. The number of Americans without insurance is over 45 million, according to the National Coalition on Health Care. There are benefits and drawbacks to the type of universal heath care system practiced in other countries.
Pro: Extending Care
With 45 million Americans uninsured, and CNN reporting that 45,000 Americans are dying per year because they don't have access to health care because costs, a universal health care system would remedy the problem of affordability. Universal health care extends care to anyone, regardless of social status or bank account. Countries that have a universal health care system in place have a longer lifespan. Canadians have a three-percent higher lifespan than Americans, according to United North America.
Con: Raised Taxes
Although universal health care is often touted as "free," it is typically government-run. Taxes would need to be raised to accommodate for universal health care, and many Americans could be adverse to their taxed earnings paying for the health care of someone who doesn't work at all.
Pro: Reducing Medical Costs
Currently, privatized health care costs are incredibly inflated. Without the government regulating health care costs, hospital fees and insurance premiums, those who set costs in the health care sector basically have free run over the system. A universal health care system would be regulated by the government, so costs overall would be reduced with a more monitored system to reduce inflated costs for tests, hospital stays and procedures.
Con: No Competition
In Canada and England, health care workers are considered employees of the government rather than private health care workers. This means that each surgeon, family practitioner and nurse is paid through the government, and their salaries are regulated by the government. This means that the competition for patients that spurs health care workers to become better at their occupations and specialties is gone. This could mean a reduction of those willing to go into the medical profession overall. You also won't be able to choose the best doctor simply by looking at her successes and patient base.
Pro: Existing Working Models
One of the biggest pros for a universal health care system is that working models exist. Germany, Switzerland, Canada and Taiwan all have successful government-run insurance or health care for all lawful residents. While none of those places are as populated as the United States, they serve as effective models for a universal health care system and how it can work for an entire nation.
Con: Longer Wait Times
When health care is extended to everyone, it can be used too often. And with "free" access, a patient may go to the emergency room with the sniffles, causing longer wait times for those who have real emergencies. Access to family doctors and specialists may also be limited due to too many patients and not enough doctors.