This topic just dawned on me as we sit here in this hospital. My family has been in a hospital for 4 months now, as we had a preemie baby born at 23 weeks. This post will not include much about our baby, but if you are interested in that journey I will post a link at the bottom of the page. This posts main focus is health care and the means by which it is provided in the Unites States. As you know by now, health care is paid for in the United States by the consumer. This is the controversy which has led to many protests, and political disagreements in the U.S; should health care be free or not?
How is Health Care Paid For
Health care is paid for by the consumer either out of pocket or via insurance. The majority of health insurance plans are provided by employers to employees. The second most popular form is state and government insurance, and lastly there are individuals who purchase private insurance per their own means. Many hospitals are government or state owned and are regulated by such policies and legislation. In Europe, for example, there are federally subsidized health insurance programs. Essentially health insurance is paid for by tax money in Europe; private insurance is an option but even individuals with high incomes are allowed to use the government health insurance. I’m not sure what incentives are in play for European citizens to purchase private insurance over government insurance but regardless nearly all citizens are eligible for free health care. In the U.S., unless you qualify for government subsidized insurance you are legally required to obtain health insurance per employer or private insurance providers. Medicare is for adults over 65 and Medicaid is for low income individuals. Each state is required to have their own Medicaid insurance, for example in TN it is TennCare.
Why Can’t U.S. Adopt the European Health Care System
This is a question which is asked very often. The U.S. is virtually the only developed country that does not offer universal health care coverage. The arguments against such coverage in the U.S. is the effort required to change and adopt a new system would call for an obscene amount of work and money. Our health care system has been in place for years and changing it would be a monumental task, as you can likely imagine. Another argument against universal health coverage is financial loss. Our country is already in major debt, and health care is responsible for a majority of our countries financial expenditures each year(around 20%), thus it would be extremely financially straining on our economy. Lastly, many argue universal health care would lower income of practitioners and providers thus lowering the quality of health care provided. This argument is discredited by studies on European health care. Germany actually has an arguably better quality of health care than the U.S. It depends what you use to measure quality of care; for example you could attempt to measure quality based off of infant deaths, and deadly illnesses it is hard to determine who has the better health care. Doctors in the U.S. typically have a higher salary than those in Europe, the difference is slight.
This is a rough one for me to wrap my head around as far as opinions go. Obviously it would be great if everyone could have health care. It also does not seem fair that those who work for their money are spending a ton of money each year to preserve their coverage and those who are in poverty get health care for free. Don’t misinterpret what I am saying, I am glad health care is provided to those who can’t afford it; on the same token I feel bad for those who are just above that financial threshold who have to pay am arm and a leg for it. In a perfect world health care would be paid for by tax money. It makes sense right? We pay taxes and we get law enforcement, roads, infrastructure, and health care. Sadly this is not how it works in the U.S. I don’t know if universal health care will ever be implemented in the U.S. Many presidents have attempted to at least offer “affordable health care” as they realize providing universal health care is a long shot. Share your thoughts below.