What does “universal health care” mean? Which countries in the film have universal health care?
Universal health care also referred to as united health care, is an essential healthcare service system that incorporates all legal residents of a society or a country, usually provided by the government. The government settles all costs on health services provided by the private sector and further pays the private doctors from its funds. Therefore, according to FRONTLINE. WGBH Educational Foundation (2008), the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, and Switzerland are countries with universal health care.
In the United States, insurance companies can deny coverage to people who are sick or who have “pre-existing conditions,” and they can make a profit. How do these two factors impact American health care?
The insurance companies in the United States have always denied health coverage to people with pre-existing conditions but still, they have enough clients to serve. This means that the American health insurance system materially discriminates against patients and this is totally inhuman and inconsiderate of the poor. It depicts a system full of flaws and with no risk adjustments programs especially for competing sicknesses (Swenson, 2009). Moreover, whether there is a sicker or a poorer patient, this system proves unreliable and inefficient because there is no pool of money from which sickness funds are obtainable to accommodate such circumstances.
In Germany, the rich pay for the poor, the ill are covered by the healthy, health insurance continues with or without employment, and doctors, who are private entrepreneurs, make less money than they did before reform. Why will doctors in Germany accept less money?
Universal healthcare is a social support system, in Germany, where the rich cover the poor and the healthy cover the ill. To finance this system, both the employees and the employers pay premiums based on their income to one of two-hundred and forty non-profit health insurance plans called ‘sickness funds’. Thus, there is stiff-necked competition among the insurance plan for clients and therefore private entrepreneurs do not make a lot of profit (Rothschild & Stiglitz, 1976). Due to the stiff competition mentioned above, doctors accept less money for their services (Rothschild & Stiglitz, 1976). It is all about the law of supply and demand in the market of insurance plans. This is possible as the Germans take the profits from the health insurance firms and pay doctors less than other countries.
Should the rich pay for the poor when it comes to health insurance?
Yes, they should since they have the ability to pay even more than they would need for themselves and their families, and adopting Universal healthcare will ensure everyone is covered. Moreover, this arrangement allows for equal treatment unlike in a profit-making sick fund where the quality of healthcare you get will depend on how much you will be able to pay (Rothschild & Stiglitz, 1976).
Until 1994, Switzerland linked health insurance to employment; if you lost your job, you lost your insurance. But after the Swiss voted in a new system called LAMal, everyone had to buy health insurance, and insurance companies could not make a profit. Why was the Swiss willing to make this change? Why have people become more supportive of LAMal as time has progressed?
Switzerland had a health insurance scheme which was greatly limited and as such could not cover all the citizens due to its attachment to employment. Fortunately, with the democratically accepted new system called the LAMal commonly referred to as ‘the sickness’, the universal health system was eventually introduced (Rothschild & Stiglitz, 1976). This health care reform was possible and as such received great support since it advocated for equal rights to health care, even to the poor who would be previously turned-down. Lamar also received subsequent support due to its notion of fairness and quality. Compared to other systems like Europe, in Switzerland, premiums are paid per person whether rich or poor, all are subjected to the same amount of premium based on age and not material welfare (Swenson, M. (2009).).
At present, between 40 and 50 million Americans are without health insurance. After watching the film, do you believe that providing universal health care should be the policy of the United States? Why or why not?
I strongly believe that America should adopt the universal healthcare system because when this scheme is adopted the more you pay the better the quality of healthcare you get. This will ensure that the minority groups in the USA, especially those between 40 and 50 million without healthcare, are incorporated in the scheme (Rothschild & Stiglitz, 1976). Hence, this urgently calls for a universal health insurance system to incorporate the majority and minority groups in the United States of America.
FRONTLINE. WGBH Educational Foundation. (2008). Sick around the World. Web.
Rothschild, M., & Stiglitz, J. (1976). Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information. Quarterly Journal of Economics 90(1), 629-649.
Swenson, M. (2009). Sick around the world: Contrasting U.S Health care with 5 other capitalist countries. Web.