Universal effective’, without exposing them ‘to financial hardship’. There

Universal health care, alternatively referred to as
universal health coverage, is defined- according to the World Health
Organisation- as a system which provides everyone with the ‘promotive,
preventative, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they
need, of sufficient quality to be effective’, without exposing them ‘to
financial hardship’. There are currently various debates circulating the world
based on the discussion of whether or not these universal health care systems
always work in the best interest of the country, to which there are two main
responses; yes, universal health care is there best option and every country
should implement it as it provides the basic right of affordable health care
that everyone should have access to, and no, universal health care is costly
and ill effective, it isn’t the best option for many countries. The majority of
low- or middle-income societies are now moving towards a system of universal
health care, showing there are strong beliefs that this is an important move
for many. On the other hand, the highly developed leading country of America
hasn’t established a system of universal health care, suggesting that
economically it isn’t always the best option. Furthermore, these two sets of
societies, those with universal health care and those without, believe their
approach isn’t only the best in terms of economy but also in terms of the
wellbeing and health of their citizens. Thus, there are strong passions on
either side of the ultimate question; should every country establish a system
of universal health care?

 

The first argument to consider in the case of this debate is
one of rights. Article 25 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states
that “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health
and well-being of himself and of his family” which includes “medical care”
which is the fundamental idea behind Universal health coverage (UHC) making it
clearly the most appropriate option for countries looking for the best for
their citizens, as we would expect them all to be doing. This shows that the
implementation of a system of UHC is something every country should be doing as
it allows them to successfully and equally allow full access for all its people
to their basic human rights. This idea is widely supported as shown in an
article by Formosa Post stating that “healthcare is a basic need of every human
being” and the view that it “should be considered as a basic human right” is
shared by many. this source comes from a platform where arguments based on
facts are discussed and there is little information about who wrote it and how
informed on the issue they are, however, the validity of the source is
increased by the fact that it is supported by the highly regarded WHO.
Furthermore, the relief of the financial hardship currently burdening families
around the world from private health care by moving to a universal system would
save millions from poverty as “over 800 million people spend over 10% of their
family budget on health services” with such costs pushing “close to 100 million
people” into extreme poverty by these expenses, according to the World Health
Organisation. The WHO can be considered a reliable international source as it
is widely recognised and supported by governments and individuals around the
world. This shows that overall the implementation of a Universal Health Care
system brings fundamental security, human rights and access to a life without
poverty, from which millions around the world could benefit.

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In addition to the clear individual benefits it’s important
to consider the economic benefits for the country. As highlighted by Jim Yong
Kim in his article published by The World Bank, there are many ways in which a
UHC system can be used to improve the economy as improving primary care
“creates jobs, increases economic opportunities in poor and remote communities
and enables task-sharing, so doctors and nurses can be deployed more
efficiently”. This means that the economy benefits from UHC systems which is an
important benefit for poorer, undeveloped countries. Similarly, in his
interview on CNN Senator Bernie Sanders made the point that a single payer
health care system, a  type of UHC, would
save the “average family significant sums of money” as well as making the point
that countries like Canada and the UK, with national health care systems, are
spending “substantially less per capita” than the US which is a claim supported
by theatlas.com data which shows in 2015 the US spent $9,451 per capita compare
to Canada who spent just $4,608, supporting the point that  the introduction of  UHC is economically favourable. However,
there is the counter argument, as highlighted by Michael D Turner in his
article originally from The Bulletin, that health care costs to all countries
are rising and this leads to “budget deficits, tax increases, and/or benefit
cuts” which many would object to.  This
is supported by the 2017 England budget as reported on by the BBC, whereby
“£2.8 bn in extra funding” will be found for the NHS. This shows that the
economy can benefit from a system of UHC, which is an important point to
consider, but it’s also important that the system is done in a way which works
best for the country and that additional systems are in place to carefully
control the outputs and inputs of related institutions. Both the BBC and CNN
have political interests which may lead to them being considered less reliable.
The BBC is a British company funded by the government and is usually bias
towards them, here, however, the source is simply stating facts about the
budget and so is reliable and factual. CNN is an American news channel which is
left wing bias. The source interviews Senator Sanders who is a left wing but
supports the idea of UHC which isn’t the general view of left-wing supporters.
This means that although there is some bias in the origin of the source, this
article shows some views from both sides as it is an oppose interviewing a
supporter and so its validity is increased. The source doesn’t use many
specific facts but gives the general argument of economic benefits which is
supported by many other factual sources. Both sources are relevant and up to
date.

 

A significant argument against the UHC proposal is the issue
of waiting times and productivity. 
Reports by the Commonwealth Fund in 2016 show that when asked “How easy
or difficult is it to get medical care in the evenings, on weekends or on
holidays without going to the emergency department?” 14.3% of American adults
asked answered “very easy” a significantly higher amount than the 2.7% in
France or the 8.5% in Canada, each of which have a system of UHC in place.
Similarly, when asked “The last time you went to the hospital emergency
department…how long did you have to wait?” the average percentage of people
across the countries with a UHC system involved in the study who answered “1
hour to <4 hours" was 35.12%, higher than the 32.4% who gave this answer in the US. Finally, the overall waiting times for surgery was answered as "4 months or more" by 18.2% in Canada and 15.3% in Norway, again higher than the 3.6% in America where 61% waited less than one month. This shows that the systems of UHC around the world are possibly worsening the health of people rather than improving it as people are being forced onto long waiting lists which could be putting their lives at risk as the systems are overstretched and underfunded due to unachievable aims.  The alternative view to this, however, is the idea that people are further risking their health due to the fear of the costs that visiting the doctor will incur. In the same data, its recorded that 21.5% of US adults experienced a time in the last 12 months when they had a medical problem but did not visit the doctor because of the cost, a much higher figure than the equivalent 2.8% who answered "yes" in Germany or the 8.6% in both France and Australia. Where UHC is available people are significantly less afraid to get help for their health concerns, this means that issues can be addressed sooner without escalation and so ultimately the health of the people can and will be positively impacted. This source is particularly factual and comes from an independent, organised survey carried out on adults across 11 countries and so is highly reliable.   Finally, there is the argument that the establishment of a UHC system leads to medical abuse which then results in rationing. For example, as shown in the Formosa Post on the Pros and Cons of Universal Health Care, when a system of UHC is implemented people can take advantage of services, such as by visiting hospitals and seeking care when it isn't necessary because its seen as free and unlimited. This not only results in people paying unnecessarily for other people's care but it also slows down the system and increases issues such as waiting times and rising taxes. This issue also leads to reactions by the government, "as seen in countries like New Zealand, Australia, France, Canada, United Kingdom and Taiwan", by using methods like "budgeting, controlled distribution, service restriction and price setting" to control the usage of the systems and ensure it isn't overstretched or taken advantage of which can also upset the citizens involved. In addition to this there is the problem of who should be allowed to use the UHC in terms of tourists and how much they can cost the country, for example in October 2017 it was claimed by Dr Mark Porter that the NHS in the UK could recover between "£200m and £500m", a claim which is scrutinised by the BBC in their 'Reality Check: How much could the NHS recover from  foreign patients?' and is concluded as a 'not unreasonable' suggestion which gives the argument more credit,  if the system of charging foreigners for non-urgent health care worked effectively. This shows that the problem of both those entitled to the services and those not paying towards the services puts a great economic burden on systems of UHC and this significantly takes away from the economic benefits claim.  The issue of improper use of services provided by a UHC system isn't always an issue which is easily solved and means that by making everyone pay to cover the country people are causing unfair costs to others making the system less economically and socially acceptable. If people were made to pay privately, they could use the system as much or as little as they like without incurring costs for others, which many may see as the more acceptable approach to the question of health care.   In conclusion, although there are some strong suggestions as to circumstances when the establishment of a universal health care system has disadvantages, I believe there are clear social and economic benefits to such systems the most important of which is the way it allows full access to human rights and a better life for the recipients which should be enough to encourage every country to establish a system of universal health care. This is a confident conclusion considering the facts and statistics as well as common opinions I have found during my research into the topic, however the combined disadvantages to UHC and possibility alternative options which haven't been extensively researched may arouse some doubt. From my research, I have learnt that there are a range of benefits covering a range of topics when considering UHC as well as various disadvantages which have varying importance between countries and cultures and have personally developed a stronger gratitude for the UHC I experience in England. If I was to research this topic again I would look at more possible alternatives to the implementation of UHC, more specific case studies of countries where it has been successful or not so successful, and some primary research on how people feel about the topic more generally and whether or not the public think it's a good idea.