Church, Johnson, Wilson 1

Kenneth Church, Matthew Johnson, Gabrielle Wilson
March 17th, 2014
Connie Rothwell
Why does the United States not have universal health care?
Many countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada provide a form of universal
health care for all of their citizens. Citizens of countries such as these who might suffer cardiac
arrest, can ride in an ambulance to a hospital, and receive the necessary medical attention
without a multi-thousand dollar bill afterward. The United States, however, does not have this
form of coverage for its citizens. If one were to suffer the same cardiac arrest in the United
States, he or she will expect to see a very large medical bill even if they have health insurance.
These sorts of medical costs can affect any citizen in the United States that requires medical
attention or especially a hospital visit. The United States has a free-market health care system,
which means we purchase our health care plans privately rather than through the government.
This leads to unregulated costs that cause prices to go up. It also causes some citizens to not be
able to afford any health care plan. Many privatized health care plans do not cover emergency
medical services, which causes the multi-thousand dollar medical bills. A government regulated
health care system can drive costs down and provide wider coverage for the citizens of the
United States.
The privatized health care system of the United States has a plethora of unnecessary,
unregulated costs which cause poorer citizens to not afford health coverage. According to public
health writer Jean L. Griffin, changing to a form of universal health care would move the funding
of health care from hidden, expensive costs of insurance deductibles, copayments, and premiums
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to taxes (Griffin). Taxes would be a more tangible and cheaper source of funding for health care,
driving costs down. Driving the costs of coverage down would lead to a wider range of citizens
being able to afford health coverage. Indiana surgeon Dr. Jonathan R. Javors states, “All
Americans must have health-care coverage”. To get this extended range of coverage, a universal
form of health care must be put in place in the United States. Javors also states that the United
States has a few characteristics required for a universal form of health care, but there must be the
will to complete the change (Javors). The costs of privatized health care plans are expensive, and
do not cover all medical services. A universal plan would drive costs down and extend coverage
to all citizens.
There are current steps that are pushing the United States toward universal health care.
The Affordable Care Act is projected to provide 92 percent of American citizens with health
insurance by 2017 (Goldfarb & Goldstein). The Affordable Care Act will expand medical
coverage up to 133 percent of the poverty line. This is roughly $15,000 for an individual and
$32,000 for a family of four. This is one step in the direction of true universal health care;
however, many issues arise from this Act. Members of the American workforce who work solely
for, or work extra hours in order to obtain, health insurance for themselves or their families will
likely voluntarily cut their hours or quit their jobs altogether (Goldfarb & Goldstein). If nothing
is done to prevent or lessen the amount of workers leaving the workforce, the United States
economy will face negative repercussions from the Affordable Care Act. With less taxable
income, there will be much less money to pay for the new health plan. This Affordable Care Act
requires changing and tweaking in order to maximize the benefits of this step toward true
universal health care.
Other countries are showing in many ways that universal healthcare is a better choice for
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citizens. In some countries such as Canada, a pregnant woman can see a doctor for free
(Anderson). In Canada, pregnant women are guaranteed 50 weeks paid maternity leave at 45%
pay. This is not the case in the United States, where there is no formal structure and no guarantee
beyond individual state laws (Peppers). Low income or uninsured women may find themselves
unable to afford proper medical care because of high costs. The average total cost for normal
childbirth in the United States, including hospital and physician costs, is roughly $10,000
(Peppers). They may also be unable to care for their child adequately immediately after birth due
to work hours. If costs were cut with universal health care, mothers could receive the medical
care she and her child need. The maternal mortality rate in Canada is half of the United States at
12 deaths per 100,000 live births reported in 2008 (Anderson). A wider range of coverage for
citizens could grant the United States with a better maternity plan for its citizens.
There are some plans in effect in the United States that provide health care for some
people who need help affording it. Medicare is a health insurance plan that pays for some
medical treatment of elderly people, and Medicaid is a plan for low income families and disabled
people (Health Insurance). These systems are a step into universal health care. These plans
provide a certain amount of health coverage for those who cannot afford it. Some would argue,
however, that these plans are wasting taxpayer money. Some believe this because the poor and
the elderly are the two most costly groups (Roy). While it may be costly, it is what the
government should do. A government must provide for its citizens.
A universal health care system is the best decision for the United States. The health care
system in the United States has some characteristics of a universal form of health care. The
United States is also taking steps toward universal health care with the Affordable Care Act.
Moving to a universal plan would also save citizens money by moving health expenditures to
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taxes instead of privatized premiums. With these cut costs, health care coverage could be
expanded to cover more citizens like Medicare and Medicaid do. America is also getting behind
when it comes to health care systems compared to other countries. It is proven that universal
plans work with countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada. The United States must
change to a universal health care system in order to keep its citizens healthy and compete

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Works Cited
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Jobs or Cut Hours, a CBO Report Says." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 04 Feb.
2014. Web. 12 Feb. 2014. <
Griffin, Jean L. "Big Savings Seen In Universal Health Care." Chicago Tribune. Tribune
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"Health Insurance." The U.S. Government's Official Web Portal. N.p., 1 Nov. 2011.
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Japsen, Bruce. "ObamaCare Increases Medicaid Eligibility For Millions." Forbes. Forbes
Magazine, 28 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.
Javors, Jonathan R. "A Call For Universal Health Care." Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company, 21
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Maltais, Michelle. "Maternity Leave in America: How Do We Stack Up?" Los Angeles Times.
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Los Angeles Times, 16 Jan. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.
Peppers, Margot. "How the Cost of Giving Birth in the U.S. Has TRIPLED since 1996 to $9,775
- Thanks to Expensive Fees for Everything from an Epidural to Placenta Removal." Mail
Online. Associated Newspapers, 01 July 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.
Roy, Avik. "The Myth of 'Free-Market' American Health Care -- And The Reality of
Singapore's." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 9 Mar. 2012. Web. 16 Feb. 2014. <