Many Americans have lived and are still living in fear every day because of the possibility of sustaining a serious injury or illness that can lead to days or even weeks of hospitalization, which could potentially put them into deep debt or even lead them to declare bankruptcy. The total number of Americans facing these types of situations is not decreasing but rather increasing steadily. As Robert Seifert and Mark Rukavina, co-authors of the book Bankruptcy is the Tip of a Medical-Debt Iceberg, pointed out, "Medical debt is surprisingly common, affecting about twenty-nine million non-elderly adult Americans, with and without health insurance. The presence of medical debt, even for the insured, appears to create health care access barriers akin to those faced by the uninsured" (qtd. in "Get the Facts"). How can the government resolve this catastrophic problem? The answer is universal health care. I believe that leaders of the United States should join the leaders of other industrialized countries who have already provided their citizens with health care because U.S. leaders believe that the country functions by what is best for the citizens and that all humans are equal; hence, equal medical treatment should be given to all.
Few would disagree that the current health care system in the United States is nothing more than inadequate. However, an abundance of debates is taking place and opinions being offered regarding how drastically the system should be changed. Those who oppose changes believe that the United States legislators should not create a plan that is equal for everyone because although many Americans are uninsured, they can still receive health care (Messerli). These opponents further argue that government-run hospitals already exist to provide assistance and that refusing medical services due to a lack of insurance is illegal (Messerli). As Senator John McCain of Arizona asserted:
I don't think that there should be a mandate for every American to have health insurance. I think that one of our goals should be that every American owns their own home, but I'm not going to mandate that every American own their own home. . . . I feel the same way about health care. If it's affordable and available, then it seems to me that again, it's a matter of choice amongst Americans; . . . (Frieden).
Although those who protest against this issue make valid points, I must disagree. I believe that a national health care system is necessary, since the United States is one of a few developed nations in which health care is not provided to all its citizens. Thus, by relying on a public health care system, U. S. citizens slowly but surely will see that health care has improved for everyone. Some positive outcomes as a result of integrating a national health care system include the following: the likely chances of increasing a person's life expectancy; setting aside incompetent resources, such as insurance applications or claim approvals; and physicians being allowed to concentrate fully on healing the patient's disease.
First, leaders of the United States should consider implementing a public health care system because such a system potentially could help U.S. citizens live a longer and healthier life. According to the CIA World Fact Book, the United States is currently ranked 50th out of 224 nations in life expectancy, which has dramatically dropped since 2004 when the U.S. was ranked 42nd (qtd. in Landau). One reasonable indication of why the United States population is ranked fairly low in terms of life expectancy is because most Americans are uninsured! As studies performed by Todd Gilmer and Richard Kronick, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, hinted that the number of uninsured Americans could possibly reach a staggering number of 52 million in 2010, which would be a dramatic increase compared to 45.7 million in 2007 (Moran). To further explain, researchers have mentioned that the major factor that contributes to the United States falling behind other industrialized nations based on the citizen's average life expectancy is caused by the imbalanced health care that the U.S. citizens are dealing with ("People in 41 Nations"). They say that this is likely the main reason because almost half of the United States population lacks health insurance, whereas legislators in other industrialized nations, such as Canada, provide health care for all of the country's citizens. Nevertheless, the integration of a national health care system most likely would increase U.S. citizens' life expectancy because they would receive necessary procedures and medications without having to worry about the total cost. As Linda Blumberg, a former advisor to President Bill Clinton explained, "The more healthy people are, the lower the average cost in the risk pool will be" (Curry).
Second, U.S. legislators should strive towards integrating a national health care system because the nation's citizens would be able to eliminate large amounts of insurance applications and other paperwork. U.S. citizens spend a great deal of money paying for medical expenses. Every time a patient goes to the hospital to see a doctor, an insurance claim must be submitted, someone in a department at the insurance company must approve the claim, then checks need to be mailed, the patient receives the bill, and the process further continues. However, relying on a national health care system would allow for one centralized system. Citizens would find health care easier because collecting or maintaining insurance information will become less stressful and time will not be wasted submitting claims. Overall, the nation's citizens will save money, which can be used to pay for other important resources. As the Physicians for a National Health Program suggested, "The potential savings on paperwork, more than $350 billion per year, are enough to provide comprehensive coverage to everyone without paying any more than we already do" (Physicians National Health Program).
Third, members of the U.S. legislature should deliberately decide to change to a public health care system because medical specialists would be able to focus solely on providing the best possible and necessary care for the patients. In the current health care system, physicians are required to take classes simply to learn about insurance plans and defensive medicine to avoid getting sued (Messerli). They sometimes are restricted by insurance policies that limit what procedures can or cannot be done for the patient. These restrictions often lead to frustration and negative outcomes. As David Evans, president of the National Physicians Alliance stated, "What doctors want is to be able to provide the best care possible for their patients, and that's difficult to do when they don't have insurance coverage" (Hasson). In addition, according to the Institute of Medicine, approximately 18,000 U.S. citizens tragically die each year due to the imbalanced health care system in this country (qtd. in "Health Care Crisis"). On the other hand, a national health care system would allow the nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals to concentrate more on doing what is best for the patient. They would feel less stressed because they would not have to worry about the patient's insurance status or malpractice liability. As a result, with the extensive care that the medical specialists would be able to provide, the number of deaths caused by the extant health care system would decrease.
Overall, the decision regarding whether U.S. legislators should commit to a national health care system has stimulated many heated debates. Those who oppose this issue argue that simply because people are uninsured does not mean that no organizations are willing to help them. Although I agree that many institutions are eager to lend a hand, I still believe that a public health care system is the best choice that can be made to ensure the health and safety for the entire population. I acknowledge that the issue of universal health care is a very complex one and that finding the perfect health program will be difficult; nonetheless, a public health care system is a suitable program for citizens of the United States because of the positive impact it can provide. Not only should integrating a national health care system be a priority for members of the U.S. Congress, but doctors and insurance companies should stop focusing on the financial benefits, politicians should set aside their political views on this particular issue, and citizens should be more informed about their medical assets. By doing this, I believe that health care in the United States would become the best health care in the world.
Curry, Tom. "Everyone into the risk pool or else." Msnbc. 8 July 2009. Web. 25 July 2009.
Frieden, Joyce. "McCain Opposes Mandating Insurance Coverage." Clinical Psychiatry News. Jan. 2008. Web. 25 July 2009.
"Get The Facts: Guarantee Issue." Fixing Our Broken Health Care System. State of California, 2007. Web. 25 July 2009.
Hasson, Judi. "Doctors on Health Care Reform: Many Voices, Many Views." AARPBulletintoday. AARP, 19 June 2009. Web. 25 July 2009.
"Health Care Crisis and Universal Health Care." Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana: Turning on Citizen Power. Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, 1 December 2005. Web. 24 July 2009.
Landau, Elizabeth. "Life Expectancy Could be Topic in Health Care Debate." CNNhealth.com. Cable News Network, 11 June 2009. Web. 25 July 2009.
Messerli, Joe. "Should the Government Provide Free Universal Health Care for All Americans?" BalancedPolitics.org. BalancedPolitics, 25 July 2009. Web. 26 July 2009.
Moran, Mark. "Number of Uninsured Appears Poised for Dramatic Surge." Pyschiatric News. 17 July 2009. Web. 26 July 2009.
"People in 41 Nations Are Living Longer Than Americans." BlueCross BlueShield Association. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Assn., 11 Aug. 2007. Web. 25 July 2009.