Our health falls under the fundamental human rights according to the 1948 constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO). A healthy body is necessary to ensure the overall balance required in life. And to have that balance it is necessary that we have access to proper healthcare.
Universal health care is one such system that tries to make sure that everyone has access to a proper health facility without burning a hole in their pockets. Health, after all, is not a luxury but a necessity.
The World Health Organization conceived the universal health care system under the sustainable development goals. The aim of sustainable development is to ensure that the conditions of the present generation will not leave any adverse impact on future generations. Universal healthcare provides affordable healthcare to avoid a geometrical increase in the poverty rate where the present generation’s inability to bear the expenses of the private healthcare system adversely affects the next generations.
But is it all good with no drawbacks, whatsoever? There are several critics of the universal healthcare system who have pointed out the various disadvantages of universal health care.
In this article, we will provide you with a list of pros and cons of universal health care system, so that you can decide for yourself if this can be beneficial for society.
But to get to that verdict, you need to understand how universal healthcare works. Let us find out.
Universal Healthcare: How it Works
So, what is universal health care? How does it work? As mentioned earlier, this system ensures that one gets quality health care without having to worry about the cost. This system does not focus on health financing, but improving the overall standard of health care infrastructure- the medical technologies, the workforce in this sector, public awareness, and overall hygiene. Thus, universal healthcare aims to ensure the overall betterment of society.
But as we know there are disadvantages as well as advantages of the universal health care system. Let’s find out what they are in the list of pros and cons of universal health care system.
Types of Universal Health Care System
- Socialized healthcare system – In this healthcare system, the entire healthcare system is publicly owned. The Government owns all the hospitals, and the entire healthcare workforce is employed by the Government. The National Health Care service in the United Kingdom is a part of socialized healthcare.
- Single-payer health care system – although the medical infrastructure and the hospitals in this system are privately owned, the state bears the expenditure of insurance. Although healthcare is more expensive in this system, people have more choices available in terms of the service options, than it is in the socialized healthcare system.
- Private insurance – In this system, private insurance companies are allowed to work under the regulation of the government. Moreover, in this network, it is often mandated by the government that every citizen must have at least a basic insurance plan. Switzerland has a regulated health care system. The system ensures that the consumer gets the greatest number of options, but it is also the most expensive healthcare system.
What are the Pros and Cons of Universal Health Care?
- Lowering the overall cost of healthcare in an economy – With a universal healthcare system, the government can regulate the medical market to set an affordable price for the service it provides.
- Lowers administrative costs – In a private system, the medical practitioner and health insurers have high administrative costs that get included within the overall treatment expenditure. With the universal healthcare system, this cost is significantly reduced.
- Simple rules – the intervention of a private insurance agency in the approval of the medical treatment complicates the process. The system of universal care ensure such complication, and approval from an outside agency is avoided so the process becomes hassle-free.
- No competition within the medical market – The private healthcare system targets people with economic privileges. The high cost of private healthcare funnels wealth into the service of the wealthy. Universal health care prohibits such profit-driven enterprises that reserve essential health care for the wealthy, making it accessible to the average citizens.
- A proper workforce can be created – Before the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, 46% of the patients in the United States went to the emergency room for treatment, because it is only their the medical personnel is bound by the law to care for people even when they couldn’t pay for the service. The universal healthcare system ensures that there is a competent and responsive workforce outside the emergency facility.
- People pay for extra services – In a universal healthcare system, the overall revenue generated goes into the treatment of chronic disorders. It might be unacceptable for people who are rich and healthy that they have to bear the expenses of poor people with chronic disorders.
- The quality of treatment may be lowered – In a universal healthcare system, due to cost reduction, the number of patients allotted to a doctor might increase beyond his capacity. This might put pressure on the doctors, increasing the risk of inaccurate diagnosis.
- Lowers the payouts of the healthcare professionals – In a universal healthcare system, doctors may dedicate less time to the patient, to lower their own cost of providing care.
Countries with Universal Health Care
1. United Kingdoms:
All the countries in the United Kingdom have access to universal health care. The National Health Service is a public healthcare service that provides affordable healthcare to everyone recognized as the permanent residents of the United Kingdom. The system of healthcare in the United Kingdom is a socialized healthcare system, where the government owns the hospitals, and the entire healthcare workforce is employed by the government.
The healthcare system in Sweden is publicly funded. The budget is provided through a system of taxation that is levied by the county council. The dental care system is funded by the state, and everyone who is aged 23 or below has access to free dental care. Although the universal health care in Sweden was considered one of the best, it faces harsh criticism in the lights of the service provided during the recent COVID-19 pandemic. News reports show that the system is discriminatory towards citizens who are of different ethnicities. The number of deaths of non-Swedish citizens due to the inaccessibility of healthcare corroborates this claim.
Top-of-the-line health services are included in the healthcare system of Hong-Kong where health education is compulsory. They also have highly developed medication and healthcare facilities. Hong-Kong is second in the list of countries with the highest life expectancy. The Hospital Authority, a statutory body manages all the public hospitals. It has made great advancements in medical research and development. It is also the first country in the world to perform a liver transplant.
These are a few pros and cons of the universal health care system. You can compare and analyze the points to understand if universal health care improves the overall conditions in a society.