Kyle Willis, a 24-year-old father from Cincinnati, experienced excruciating pain from his molar teeth in his mouth. Two weeks before, when his pain was mild he visited the dentist, he was told that his wisdom tooth needed to be pulled out. At the time he was unemployed, which meant he was uninsured.Willis decided for the sake of his family that he would forgo the procedure. As time passed his symptoms worsened, yet Willis was determined to hold on to his pain inorder to puts his families needs first. Willis was not the same, his face began to swell up and he was experiencing hurtful aches from his head. His family rushed him to the emergency room, Willis was quickly admitted due to his disfigurement. At the emergency room, a doctor prescribed him antibiotics and pain relievers. It was revealed that Wilis had developed a tooth infection. Willis chose to take the pain relievers instead of the antibiotics because there was no way he could afford both. In no time the infection spread, causing his head and brain to swell up. With his family at his side, Willis died immediately after. His family was there at his side as he took his very last breaths.
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There are countless stories just like Willi’s, of people who would just rather keep quiet about their pain, symptoms, or health in general due to economic barriers that can most likely result into death. It comes to a great surprise that a country as wealthy as the United States has thousands of citizens pleading for help in not being able to afford any kind of healthcare. In fact the United States is the only modernized country that does not offer universal health coverage or in other words, publicly funded healthcare to its citizens. Universal Healthcare is a system which the government guarantees everybody access to a certain level of medical care. Its a health coverage in which people receive quality healthcare without suffering a financial hardship as stated by the World Health Organization (WHO). Even Though the U. S had previously taken a step into making a change in affordable healthcare with Obamacare or ACA, this coverage was not suited for everyone but merely for those that could afford to pay thousands in deductibles. Additionally the Americans that have health insurance are facing rising premiums while the quality in insurance policies are lowering, making it difficult for people to decide if paying these prices of health insurance is the right fit for them.
Although the U.S constitution indicates that healthcare is not a human right, I believe that everyone should be entitled for the protection they need in order to stay healthy. In other words everyone should have the right to an attainable standard of physical and mental health with access to medical attention, healthy foods, shelter, sanitation, and decent working conditions that are all factors that contribute to our well being. Many of these resources especially accessing healthcare, exclude many individuals due to their economic livelihoods. Healthcare should be considered a fundamental right to everyone not just to the privileged who have the means to afford healthcare and insurance. Therefore, the United States ought to implement a system of Universal healthcare that will transform healthcare into something affordable and accessible for the reasons that citizens simply cannot afford medical treatment due to its high prices and because many people are risking their lives by avoiding medical attention. Also many developed countries with Universal healthcare and funding, specifically Canada has shown to be successful economically, in patient satisfaction, and quality wise. Implementing this new system could lead to higher life expectancy rates and healthier communities as shown to be successful even in third world countries. Universal Healthcare could be the beginning to a better and improved lifestyle for the thousands of struggling U.S citizens.
In 2017, the total cost of healthcare was approximately $3.5 trillion dollars, making it one of America’s largest businesses. The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) the total value of production of healthcare spending was equivalent to 17.9 percent, reaching its highest peak. The total spending amount of the U.S of health related services concluded that it cost an estimated $10,739 dollars for each person in America. This is number is only the average a person could spend, while being tentatively healthy. These numbers are nowhere comparable to the year 1960, when the GDP per capita was 5 percent, and the cost of healthcare that year nearly reached $27.2 billion dollars. In 1960, the approximate total per person seeking medical attention was only $146 dollars annually. These prices have increasingly skyrocketed faster than the average annual income ( The balance Amadeo, 2019). For this reason it’s no surprise that people nearly have to give up an organ to afford any kind of medical service.
The severe high prices of healthcare is becoming an alarming public crisis. A survey done by NORC at the University of Chicago indicated that nationwide there is a percentage of 40% of Americans that in their lifetime have avoided treatment or medical testing due to its cost. According to the national poll 30% also indicated that they had to choose between paying for daily necessities or paying for their medical bills or health insurance. Most people that seek medical treatment in America most likely fear their medical bills rather than the actual illness, or disease they are seeking treatment for. Also out of the national poll more than half of those surveyed disclosed that they face significant consequences due to health expenses. This includes taking out a loan, borrowing money, or taking out of their savings account. Many citizens in the U.S have accumulated thousands in medical debt due to being insured and still having to pay out of pocket or being uninsured. (West Health). Indeed healthcare costs in the U.S are expensive, and they are already the highest in the world. The terrible thing is that healthcare in the U.S is solely considered a business enterprise, in which medicine and its services are privatised. In this case these private businesses are the ones that have the authority to raise prices whenever they please to meet the standards of shareholders without taking inconsideration if people have the means to afford the changes in prices. Since it’s merely seen as a business they forget about what really matters the most people, the value in care, and it’s effectiveness.
On the other hand, Canada has better ethics when it comes to healthcare. Canada provides Universal access to healthcare for its citizens called Medicare. This means that their health coverage is not linked to anybody’s job or dependent on a person’s income like it is in the United States. The way this county provides healthcare is through a single-payer system, in which the government funds services provided by a private delivery system. Canada’s health care system provides accessible care to all it’s residents, no matter their ability to afford it or not (The balance). The government must provide accessible health care to its residents based on their medical needs instead of what’s in their wallet. (Government of Canada). The way the country pays for the services of healthcare is through a tax system, in which its citizens excluding children and dependents pay taxes according to their income. Higher-income earners pay a greater proportion of the taxes due to their ability to do so. (Citation). In the year 2017 Canada spent $242 billion on healthcare, spending 11.5% of its GDP on healthcare and its services. This equaled to about $6,604 of the average cost of a person seeking medical attention in Canada, almost half the price it costs in the U.S. With lower prices, Canada also finds it way to provide higher quality and effective care to its citizens. According to the CommonWealth Fund, Canada ranked in ninth place compared to the U.S who ranked last from the eleven countries that were studied and measured. The counties were ranked depending on the performance of their healthcare system of 2017 in various categories. For example Canada ranked sixth in care process and administrative efficiency, and ninth in healthcare outcomes. The U.S ranked last in nearly all categories that included; Access, Equity, and healthcare outcome and second to last in Administrative efficiency (The CommonWealth Fund). When we pay more money for services, we expect a greater quality and higher outcomes. However this is not the case with America’s healthcare system since it has proved to cost millions, cause poor results, and impact the daily lives of U.S citizens, compared to Canada and other developed countries who have Universal coverage for its citizens.
America’s healthcare system remains to consist of many flaws, apart all its high costs. Adopting a system of Universal healthcare, will not only lower the costs for the public but it can also improve the life expectancy rate and promote a healthy lifestyle for U.S communities. Universal health care can potentially lower the amount of deaths that occur in America due to treatable illnesses, chronic diseases, cancer, and obesity that have all drastically put a toll on this country. With more access to healthcare, individuals can have a chance to be seen for annual check ups, make visits to medical services, and access to affordable prescription drugs with the plan to spot and prevent illnesses and diseases beforehand, improving the health of many people.
The updated average life expectancy for Americans in 78.6 years of age. The average American life expectancy age is lower by 1.5 years to the average expected age of 80.3, as stated by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
*look at citation
A common argument against a health reform in the U.S is that if the healthcare system became public, Americans would have increased taxes to cover the expenses for healthcare for all citizens. People with higher incomes would spend more for themselves and for many others with lower incomes. The debate is that those who are healthy, would be paying for the medical expenses for those who have made the choice to live an unhealthy lifestyle that may result in medical attention. However, while this may be true Universal Healthcare can potentially guarantee everyone to have some sort of access to medical services, diminishing the various disparities that exist in America ‘s health system. Everyone would have an equal access to these services without facing the burden of health costs. Furthermore many believe that some people are unhealthy because they don’t take proper care of their health, but in reality there is a population of people who are ill because of factors that are beyond their control.
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Despite the few disadvantages of Universal Healthcare, there is a greater financial need for a reform in healthcare that is affecting the lives of many U.S citizens. We as Americans must reflect and confront healthcare as a public issue. It’s time to begin viewing our heath as a social matter by putting more emphasis on the public’s medical needs in order to save lives, embrace healthier communities and have long lasting lives. In a country that favors capitalism and individualism, we must stand up its unprincipled actions in the willingness in denying medical access on its citizens based on their income or worth. We should understand that capitalism nor individualism should ever have a place in healthcare for the reason that it is a human right rather than a privilege. Also we should all find it within our hearts to have compassion towards the sick and the impoverished. It’s the right time to discover, the potential Universal Health Care can have in the U.S by putting what should have always come first, our health and wellbeing rather than the profit margins.
- The CommonWealth Fund https://interactives.commonwealthfund.org/2017/july/mirror-mirror/Health Affairs
- Abc news https://abcnews.go.com/Health/insurance-24-year-dies-toothache/story?id=14438171
- Health affairs https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.22.6.183
- Journal Of Forensic Medicine https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/high-cost-of-healthcare-in-the-united-states-manifestation-of-corporate greed-jfm-1000103.php?aid=66253
- The balance https://www.thebalance.com/causes-of-rising-healthcare-costs-4064878
- West health https://www.westhealth.org/press-release/survey2018/
- Canada’s healthcare https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/health-care-system/reports-publications/health-care-system/canada.html
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