Universal Health Coverage May Not be the Answer
As debate heats up for the upcoming Presidential Campaign, candidates from both parties have been talking about Healthcare, and health insurance reform. A term that comes up often is Universal Health Coverage. And while the idea of low-cost health coverage for all sounds like a good one; and on principal who could object to seeing that everybody has health coverage; as a practical matter Universal Healthcare may not be the best option.
Those who are opposed to Universal Health Insurance do not deny that we have a health insurance problem in America. Nor are they heartless and enjoy seeing families and especially children without access to affordable health insurance, or basic medical care. They just feel that fixing the problems in our current system is a more practical solution than entirely overhauling the system. Those who are against Universal Health Insurance Coverage say that adopting such a system could trade a system where some have no coverage at all, for one where all or most are denied access to the best health care.
They point out that problem in other countries that have such Universal Health Coverage. In Great Britain for example it has been reported that at any given time some 900,000 citizens are waiting for admission to a National Health Service Hospital, and 50,000 surgical procedures are canceled each year due to shortages. In Sweden patients have been known to wait over a year for procedures that are commonplace here, such as hip replacements. And in Canada which is so often pointed to when the debate for Universal Health Insurance is brought up, a Chief Justice of their Supreme Court recently stated, “access to a waiting list is not access to health care.”
Opponents fear that by mandating medical insurance coverage for all we will avoid true reform and the development of real cost containment strategies, that can go a long way to making health insurance more affordable without denying access to care. They point out that there are already measures in place such as the requirement that Emergency Rooms must treat people to ensure that even those without health insurance coverage have access to basic care. We should look at expanding these and other federal programs such as CHIP and Medicaid.
Rather than coming up with a universal single payer system that can be limiting, they feel that other reforms such as enacting a standard health-insurance tax deduction, expanding health-savings accounts and encouraging competition in health insurance markets could truly expand coverage, improve quality of care and make health insurance more affordable for everyone.