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Universal Health Insurance

Universal health insurance, otherwise known as universal health care or universal medical insurance, is a healthcare system in which all residents of a geographic or political entity receive health care at no cost to the individual. Within the Universal health insurance system, all individuals are entitled to health care regardless of any pre-existing medical condition or financial status. Universal medical insurance may vary depending on the system and some medical conditions may not be covered or may be only partially covered under the healthcare system.

Funding

Most Universal health insurance systems are funded through taxes but some are privately funded. Other systems are a mixture of public and private funding. Still other universal medical insurance systems use a single-payer method in which a single entity (usually government-run organizations) manage all fees paid into the system as well as all health care costs.

The Case for Universal Health Insurance

There are several arguments for and against universal health insurance. There are also several proposals for state governments within the U.S. to establish health care coverage within that state that reflects the ideas of universal medical coverage (namely Massachusetts and California). Organizations that argue for developing a universal health insurance plan in the U.S. argue that:

-Rising health care costs will ultimately make health care unaffordable
-Health care is a human right
-It will provide everyone with health benefits and save lives of those who might forgo treatment due to lack of insurance or costs
-Providing health care to everyone will decrease the amount of diseased individuals who could potentially spread the condition
-A centralized database of medical information could potentially make diagnosis and treatment easier for doctors
-Profit motives of heath care providers and products adversely affects the quality of health care

Advocates for universal health suggest that the U.S. government should sponsor and establish health insurance options and give each citizen an allocation of funds to help pay for that insurance. The poor and elderly would receive larger payments from the government. Government options would include basic levels of insurance up to more comprehensive coverage, with the larger plans being more expensive. Insurance plans would involve more coverage for preventative care in order to encourage healthier lifestyles, thereby preventing the spread of disease.

Availability of Universal Health Insurance

Countries that provide a system of universal health insurance include:

-Argentina
-Australia
-Austria
-Belgium
-Canada
-Cuba
-Denmark
-Finland
-France
-Germany
-Greece
-Ireland
-Israel
-Italy
-Japan
-The Netherlands
-New Zealand
-Norway
-Portugal
-Russia
-Saudi Arabia
-Seychelles
-South Korea
-Spain
-Sri Lanka
-Sweden
-The Republic of China (Taiwan)
-The United Kingdom

The Case Against Universal Health Insurance

The United States does not currently have a universal health insurance program for the country. There are several arguments against the idea of implementing a universal medical insurance system. These arguments include:

-Health care is not a human right and each individual has the right to as much health care as they are willing to pay for
-An increase in wait times for health care
-Poorer quality of health care and services
-More “red tape” and less efficiency due to government-run organizations
-Tax increases nationwide
-Profit motives and private organizations lead to greater cost control through capitalism and efficiency
-There are already some systems in place to ensure the health care of individuals with low incomes or chronic disease


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