The United States needs to implement comprehensive and free universal healthcare (UHC) for all Americans through a pluralistic system involving private organizations and the government or a publicly funded health insurance scheme. America’s healthcare structure is a complex combination of federal programs, private insurance firms, and political interference, which play an influential role in exacerbating the existing social inequalities. Additionally, this amalgamation is a leading contributor to the ever-increasing medical costs, entrenches the current barriers to quality healthcare, and adversely impacts the population’s general well-being. Government-funded UHC structure encompasses the full spectrum of critical, quality services, including promotion, preventive, treatment, rehabilitative, and palliative care throughout a person’s course of life. Although such a scheme would require a considerable capital lay and impose a more significant financial burden on the citizens, it would engender lower overall healthcare costs, reduce barriers to care, and create a healthier population.
Overview of a Free Universal Healthcare System
A free UHC system is a healthcare arrangement designed to offer high-quality medical services to all people regardless of their ability to pay. It is characterized by delivering care to citizens at no or minimal cost through extensive government-financed subsidy programs. In recent years, numerous countries have adopted and implemented free universal healthcare as they aspire to realize the sustainable objective of ensuring that individuals and communities access quality services without suffering financial hardships. Tao et al. argue that a subsidized universal healthcare policy is a top priority for the global health agenda and reflects the world committed to building healthier populations (1). Bloom et al. corroborate this view and further argue that a properly developed UHC system engenders high-quality care, enhances the realization of accessible medical services, and minimizes the systemic disparities that characterize most healthcare schemes (2). From this perspective, a free UHC is a powerful indicator of human progress and the single intervention through which a country can attain multiple economic, social, and health benefits for its citizens.
Reduction of Overall Healthcare Costs
The United States’ average expenditure on healthcare exceeds that of other developed countries. The primary reason for this excessive spending is not greater utilization of facilities or services but higher medical prices driven by the industry’s profit motive. The United States is the only country with a profit-motivated healthcare structure, a characteristic which has resulted in the perpetual rise in the overall spending on medical services (Branning and Vater, 445; Papanicolas et al., 1024). Notably, numerous efforts have been implemented to control the skyrocketing prices with no significant progress or success. This implies that without amending the fundamental structural flaws in healthcare financing, the overall control of medical costs is impossible. However, a publicly funded arrangement would eliminate the profit motive by enhancing governmental administration and supervision on the prices through regulation and negotiations. In this regard, implementing a free UHC in the United States is imperative and an essential bedrock for addressing the perpetually rising costs.
Additionally, a free UHC is a tax-based healthcare financing option in which individuals contribute to providing services through various government-imposed levies. Effective government-sponsored programs could even integrate private plans and players to augment the federal government’s efforts, provided they draw their compensation from a single point overseen by the regime. Such a scheme would eliminate the competing interests of private health insurance plans, remove market orientation and profit motives, and impose a value-based system, leading to a decline in costs (Crowley et al., S7). Therefore, the United States needs to implement a free UHC as a strategic intervention against the rising healthcare costs.
Increased Access to Healthcare and Reduced Healthcare Disparities
Significant progress against multiple health challenges in the United States is arguably unachievable due to the poor access to medical care. Notably, the country’s healthcare system is unique compared to other advanced and industrialized nations, particularly regarding the prohibitively high costs, which impede peoples’ ability to acquire services. According to Sanogo et al., the implementation of a UHC has proven effective in expanding the equitable accessibility of essential health services by removing the financial barriers of vulnerable populations in Scandinavian countries (2). Benenson et al. posit that individuals earning below-average incomes are highly likely to report reduced healthcare services and facilities than their affluent counterparts (765). For instance, financial implications discourage economically disadvantaged people from visiting a doctor when they fall sick, following their care, or getting a recommended test due to the difficulties in paying for rendered services. With the implementation of a free UHC, such barriers will be eliminated, ultimately expanding the accessibility of healthcare in the United States.
Healthier Population and Longer Life Expectancy
Implementing a free UHC program in the United States would create a healthier population and longer life expectancy. Individuals living in countries operating the free UHC system enjoy easy access to comprehensive medical services from birth, contributing to improved populations’ health outcomes. Notably, this healthcare model ensures that everyone benefits from the expanded packages, including acquiring preventive and primary care and managing chronic illnesses. Additionally, it protects individuals from the psychological turmoil brought about by catastrophic healthcare costs. This implies that a publicly funded UHC is a multipronged instrument, allowing even the economically disadvantaged to obtain health services. Generally, healthier global populations cannot be realized without guaranteeing all individuals, including those unable to meet healthcare costs, free access to services when they need them. Therefore, the United States should implement a free UHC as an approach to reduce health inequalities, reduce the adverse implications of preventable illnesses, and promote the overall health of populations.
Further, a free UHC prevents a wide array of illnesses through community-level interventions, covering the entire citizenry. Notably, preventable sicknesses are a frequent and a leading cause of enormous out-of-pocket expenses, which expose individuals and families to excessive financial pressure and even poverty. An efficient and functional publicly funded healthcare system increases the masses’ likelihood to utilize professional services, particularly for easily preventable infectious diseases. According to Ranabhat et al., properly implemented UHC mitigates the detrimental effects of social and economic status, allows healthcare professionals to prevent diseases effectively, and positively influences long-term health objectives, such as life expectancy (960). This indicates that the adoption of free UHC in the United States would allow more people to visit healthcare facilities whenever they fall ill or need the services of a physician regardless of whether they have money at that particular time. This enables timely interventions, which reduces the occurrence of severe illnesses, and increases life expectancy. From this perspective, the United States should implement a free UHC to ensure a healthier population and enhance life’s longevity.
Prevention of Future Social Costs
Free UHC guarantees a wide range of essential health services, including the promotion and preventive services and treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care. This implies that pregnant mothers and their neonates access comprehensive maternal attention and early childhood interventions. Indeed, an effective and adequately implemented free UHC has robust and long-lasting health benefits, which reduce an individual’s likelihood of engaging in adverse behavioral outcomes. Morrissey argues that maternal and early childhood care is cost-intensive and places an enormous financial burden on individuals and communities (2). As a result, most people feel the urge to avoid them, exposing unborn children and neonates to high risks adverse health and behavioral outcomes. Consequently, their future costs increase disproportionately and impede their ability to be independent, economically productive, and unreliant on social welfare. Therefore, the United States should operationalize a free UHC program to safeguard individuals against poor health and behavioral outcomes in the future.
Encouraging People to Make Healthier Choices
Implementing a free UHC program could be the turning point of America’s healthcare system, which consumes a significant proportion of the country’s resources. The existing healthcare disparities are primarily influenced by the enormous costs, limiting the population constituting the low social-economic segments from making health-conscious decisions. For instance, the current market-oriented and profit-driven healthcare system discourages undertaking regular checkups, which reduce the likelihood of an individual from the risks of non-communicable chronic conditions, such as cancer and obesity. Zieff et al. contend that reforming America’s healthcare and supplanting the current hybrid system with a free UHC would eliminate the financial barrier and encourage health-seeking behaviors (580). Indeed, preventive care is a critical component of an effective and properly functioning healthcare system. It reduces the potential for significant health conditions or emergencies, which are generally associated with crippling financial implications (Musich et al., 389). From this perspective, the United States should implement a free UHC healthcare program to promote the adoption of health-seeking behaviors by the members of the public.
Improve Economic Growth and Performance
Experts have indicated that the perennially rising healthcare costs could engender reduced performance and growth of the economy. America’s profit-driven medical system ties colossal sums of money in acquiring capital-intensive equipment, developing competing technologies, and hospital bills. Additionally, the money spent on healthcare and insurance premiums could be redirected to boost wages and salaries of workers, thereby injecting an impetus for savings and investment. However, implementing a free UHC will eliminate all these components and needs and even minimize the stress and economic shock associated with falling ill. Moreover, the continuing rise in healthcare costs and expenditures will necessitate the imposition of higher taxes by the federal government or reduce the funds directed to other critical areas. At the individual level, these high costs often destroy peoples’ financial stability, expose them to debt problems, and even drive others to poverty. Therefore, a free UHC would provide a significant boost to the country’s economic growth and performance.
Conclusively, America’s healthcare system is a complex combination of publicly funded and privately financed arrangements with multiple dimensions of political influences. Consequently, it is characterized by extensive inefficiencies, strong market orientation, and profit motives. From this perspective, the county’s expenditure on healthcare outstrips those of other equally advanced nations. However, implementing a free UHC would minimize these efficiencies, increase healthcare accessibility, reduce disparities, and lead to more healthy populations and longer life expectancy.
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