What is Universal Healthcare & Single Payer?

Universal Health Care (UHC) which is also known as universal care, universal coverage or universal health coverage is a term that is used to address a health care system which provides health care and financial protection to every citizen of a specific country.  It addresses:   Who is covered?  What services are covered?  How much of the cost is covered?


Universal health care was first started in Germany in the year 1883 and spread through other countries especially the rich countries of Europe. America does not practice this type of health right now.  Sometimes the universal health care system is referred to as free health care (in Canada). In a real world, there is nothing like a free health care, somebody is actually paying for it.


The Pros of UHC:   *This is perhaps the greatest advantage of universal health care, every member of the society that practice this type of health plan can be able to access health care no matter his social status.   Since no single human life is greater to another, the poor can be able to receive exactly the type of health care that could only be afforded by rich men under normal circumstances. This type of health care does not discriminate against anyone. It puts all the legal members of the society on the equal pedestal.  It also improves public health, has less paperwork, stops medical bankruptcies, benefits businesses, boosts economy and is seen as a human right.


The Cons of UHC:  *This is perhaps the least advantage:  Long Wait Time. This type of health care system often results in long wait times for patients and not everyone may receive the type of care that they need. Since this type of system is run by the government there can be a lot of red tape and bureaucracy.


It Leads to A Socialism State.  Bernie Sanders has been criticized that his universal health care plan is such an un-fetched dream. To make this happen, he admitted that he would have to increase taxes to every citizen, which can plunge United States into a socialism state where government controls the distribution of goods and services. It could be a first step towards government controlling other aspects of the economy.


The universal health care will reduce the amount of money doctors can make thereby reducing the attraction in the practice. This could create shortage of doctors in the long-run.Those with higher incomes may complain that their money is going to pay for the health care of other citizens when it should be going to pay for their own health care. Medical Abuse (unnecessary visits by patients)  can lead to Rationing  and cause backups in office visits.


There Is No Free Lunch  There will be an increase in taxes.  If there is no competition between choosing a doctor, there may be no Innovation thereby reducing the attraction in the practice. This could create shortage of doctors in the long-run.  And it takes time to put this new system in place; to get there, may take a long haul in time.


**Increase Government Debt:  This is probably the biggest argument against universal health care. Implementing a single payer health care system causes an increase in taxes as the system needs to be paid for. The overall costs of the system can be draining on a country and causes large debts & would amount to enormous growth in government spending and debt.   Governments aren’t that great at running large systems and the fact that the government runs health care can lead to a lot of problems. To run the health care system there may need to be cuts made in other areas of the government.


Universal care coverage and single payer system may be confused for one another because they are closely related concepts however they are two separate things.

Universal healthcare coverage refers to a system where every individual in the United States will receive health coverage. Under universal coverage, the over 46.6 million Americans who albeit have no health insurance will receive coverage

Whereas, a single payer system is the type of healthcare plan where one party mostly the government, will be responsible for paying all healthcare claims. Currently, the type of health care system in place in United States is the one where separate private insurance companies are charged with paying for the healthcare claims of the rich few who were able to afford the insurance while federal and state government pay some special  healthcare care claims through the programs known as Medicaid and Obamacare.

Usually, universal healthcare coverage and single payer health insurance system go together since in most cases, the federal government will be the one responsible for the administration and payment of health care system that provides coverage for millions of people. On the other hand, it’s possible to have a universal healthcare coverage in place without having a single-payer system. In theory, it is possible to have a single-payer system without universal healthcare coverage however the possibility of it is extremely unlikely since such a system will undoubtedly be managed by the federal government.  Source: https://www.formosapost.com

Marie Coppola July 2017