Is universal health care an option for US?

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“You can see the consequences of universal health care systems in other countries,” said Leonard Fleck, a health care policy expert at Michigan State University. “Everyone is covered and it’s much cheaper.”

Fleck said the current health care system doesn’t protect equality of opportunity.

“Individuals that have serious health care problems that prohibit their ability to work are individuals that are seriously disadvantaged,” Fleck said

Fleck said a major problem with the current system is the amount of people without health insurance and referenced a study done by the American Journal of Public Health. The study found that 45,000 excess deaths occur annually due to a lack of health insurance.

“That’s not ethically acceptable, and shouldn’t be politically acceptable,” Fleck said

He explained this occurs because people without health insurance don’t want to go to the hospital.

“A person could experience minor pain from a treatable form of cancer, but won’t visit their doctor because of an expensive hospital bill,” he said. “In six months, the treatable cancer develops into an untreatable form of cancer.”

Fleck believes the government plays a substantial role in ensuring access to health care and the US should work on adopting universal coverage.

According to the Department of Health there are 32 countries in the world with universal health care programs. The list includes Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, and almost every other industrialized nation. The US is one of the only industrialized nations that doesn’t provide its citizens with universal health care coverage.

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Luke Burchart

Countries with Universal Health Care according to the Department of Health

 

But the American political scene is wary of government-run health care. According to a survey conducted by Gallup, 62 percent of Americans rejected the idea to replace the current system with a government-run health care system.

A common argument is that it doesn’t provide access to quality care. Fleck said this is demonstrably false, citing cystic fibrosis as evidence. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system.

If you’re born in the United States with the disease, you have a life expectancy of 35 years, but if you’re born in Canada with the disease, you have a life expectancy of 45 years.

Another popular argument against universal health coverage is the lack of care in a timely fashion.

Greg Turner, a Canadian citizen currently working in Southfield, Michigan, said he doesn’t experience long waiting periods.

“I hurt my knee and required surgery,” Turner said. “I was in the hospital the same day, diagnosed, and surgery was scheduled for the next day.”

Turner said he loves the system because treatment is always available, and is prioritized by need, not by money.

“Canadians don’t make life decisions based on worries of the health care system,” said Turner. “Rich or poor, we all have the same coverage.”

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