Universal Health Care Coverage

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Universal health care refers to a detailed type of health care system which allows for fiscal security and health care to all its citizens. The system itself is structured around providing a particular course of benefits to all members of a society with the end objective of improving individual access of health care services and thus enhanced outcomes regarding ailments and diseases. It is important to note that universal health care does not entail coverage for all people for everything, but it covers the decisive aspects of certain medicinal services.  In addition, an individual cannot automatically be deprived of healthcare coverage as long as that individual is an inhabitant of the country that offers that universal coverage. The insurance companies play a significant role in universal health care in the United States. Their influence has presented a great deal of friction toward universal healthcare, but if their intent was to prevent it, they failed. 

The universal health care concept dates back to the health care system that was developed on a national level in Germany under Otto von Bismarck. Germany's early system had both employees and employers pay into a meticulous health care system, which was operated by local health bureaus ("The world health report - Health systems financing: the path to universal coverage"). Universal health care in most countries has been achieved via a blended model of funding. General tax proceeds are usually the chief source of funding, being supplemented by explicit levies for services that normally would be covered by the public system. The European systems, for the most part, are funded through a fusion of public and private donations. The mass of universal health care systems are funded principally by tax revenue. There is usually a distinction made between national and municipal healthcare funding in that what is deemed field specific healthcare is provided for by a superior unit in the federal model, while on the municipal level, a significant portion of healthcare services are funded by the municipality (Bentes et.al; Glied). While universal health care is not a serious issue among most nations, it has been a key issue within the United States as a result of President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.

The number of underinsured and uninsured individuals in the United States is striking and has skyrocketed dramatically within the last few years. As of 2007, there was an estimated 25 million people underinsured in the United States, up 60% from 2003. Much of this significant rise has result throughout individuals who are noted as being middle class. While low-income individuals remain vulnerable, middle income families have indeed been hit the hardest (Scheon et.al). Therefore, a strong correlation between health insurance coverage and access was necessary, especially in the United States, as health insurance affects the economic comfort of families. Insurance aids in the decrease of ambiguity that is associated with health care needs. 

Healthcare has been stated by many families to be expensive and thus, those lacking coverage are plagued the most by the financial burdens associated with certain out-of-pocket expenses. This is what has proven to be the largest factors in why so many people do not have coverage or rather do not see their medical professional regularly. It is important to note that many, but not every company, tends to offer group health insurance plans to their employees as an assistance and there is as a rule comprehensive coverage accessible to the employee's families; yet that has not necessarily repaired the rupture in the line associated with healthcare as many smaller businesses have allowed it a voluntary alternative and businesses can opt not to partake in offering healthcare to their employees in certain instances and circumstances ("The Uninsured: A Primer - Key Facts About Americans Without Health Insurance”). The need for Obamacare was indeed necessary, then. When President Obama was elected in November of 2008, the onus was on the United States to attempt an adoption of the universal healthcare system that has been seen to have helped other countries.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act contains nine titles, each addressing an essential component of reform. These nine titles are: "quality, affordable health care for all Americans, the role of public programs, improving the quality and efficiency of health care, prevention of chronic disease and improving public health, health care workforce, transparency and program integrity, improving access to innovative medical therapies, community living assistance services and supports, and revenue provisions. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ensures that all Americans have access to quality health care. The Congressional Budget Office has determined that the act is fully paid for and will allow more than 94% of Americans to have access to healthcare in addition to reducing the deficit over the next 10 years.” ("The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”). This act was proposed to allow for a better handling of the healthcare system in the United States. The purpose of the Patient and Protection and Affordable Care Act is to achieve a “fundamental transformation of health insurance in the United States through a shared responsibility. Systematic insurance market reform will eliminate discriminatory practices such as pre-existing condition exclusions. Achieving these reforms without increasing health insurance premiums will mean that all Americans must be a part of the system and must have coverage” ("The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”). Opposition to universal health care coverage has noted that privatization of programs such as Medicare and Medicaid will be more beneficial to the United States than the provisions that are laid out in Obamacare. 

This opposition has been a result of the fact that political campaigns often receive contributions from medical political action committees. The American Medical Association often tops the contributions list in political campaigns. Insurance companies are at the center of the debate on national health insurance because of the significant amount of resources that they put into political campaigns for those in Congress (Makinson) therefore, many of those who would ordinarily fight for universal health care do not because they have received contributions from PACs. The reverse is also true in that there are those that do find universal health care beneficial and these groups and individuals have made contributions as well to those in the legislative branch and expect to see results.

Studies and research have offered up much debate on both sides of the issue regarding the benefits and disadvantages of universal health care coverage. These studies have been put forth in Congress. In one particular national study performed in 2007 that sought to understand the aftermath of the medical problem at the time, the “results showed medical debtors had slightly lower incomes, educational attainment, and were therefore less likely to have medical insurance. It also showed that middle aged, middle class debtors who had attended college, also suffered financial setbacks associated with the medical costs at the time and the privatization of medical insurance” (Himmelstein et.al). Therefore, conclusions would purport that Obamacare was a remedy that the United States needed along the lines of other systems, such as the National Health Service in the United Kingdom that was developed in 1948 after World War II. This particular system has been able to keep tax burdens low for citizens in that country.

Perhaps the largest debate about Obamacare is its effects on the employment dynamics. Obamacare will indeed cost employers and employees and later the employment rates in the United States. Many have stated that it kills jobs because of the provision in there about full time employment, yet logical arguments would suggest that Obamacare and its benefits outweigh the slight changes in the amount of hours a person has to work to be able to have access to health insurance via their employer. The insurance companies have often stated along with many corporations that healthcare kills jobs, however, over the past decade the amount of small businesses that can afford to provide health insurance to their employees has dropped dramatically, while larger businesses have been mostly unaffected. It can therefore be said that Obamacare helps small business and forces bigger businesses to treat their workers with respect. The fact is Obamacare studies have shown "it increases job growth creating millions of jobs. More than 96% of the nation’s firms with 50 employees or more already began offering health insurance to their works despite the rising cost of healthcare ("Impact of ObamaCare on Jobs: Does ObamaCare Kill Jobs?"). This has been the reason that many in the insurance arena and in Congress have tried to fight the institution of Obamacare. 

Critics of Obamacare have noted the CBO report that projects that "3 to 5 million fewer people will obtain health coverage through their employer a year from 2019-2022. While many employees and employers benefit from Obamacare, these employees will simply get health insurance elsewhere if the employer decides that not insuring them is economical" ("Impact of ObamaCare on Jobs: Does ObamaCare Kill Jobs?"). The critics use this to say that Obamacare is not a feasible plan for the economy nor for the citizens of the United States in any form or fashion.

Politicians from across the spectrum of politics have argued that the government should guarantee the right to universal coverage to all Americans, but insurance companies for the most part do not see it this way. Americans usually purchase health insurance from government-controlled corporations giving the health industry a shade or something to hide behind. Yet, behind this shade, lies regulations and taxes that do not equally apply to all insurance companies. Insurance companies are taxed on the premiums by the states, so universal health care isn't as glamorous as one may say. Insurance companies continually fight in preventing the United States from having universal health care because they often note it as being impractical and unnecessary. It is a virtual tell consumers what to do type of coverage (Zinser & Hsieh). One could of course argue against that assertion by insurance companies that universal health care is impractical. There are so many more benefits and advantages to universal health care that the insurance companies are overlooking or rather choosing to overlook in their opposition. The root of this discussion is one of power and the control of it. Insurance companies benefit more from a privatized system than the universal health system proposed and executed under the Obama Administration. Political action committees intend for their lobbying to do the trick with those on Capitol Hill because they have a vested interest in making sure that they do not have to do anything extra for the citizens of the United States.

Given the hot button issue that universal health care is, the act is still rather contentious even though it appears to be a done deal as far as execution and establishment to ensure that Americans will be able to get health care coverage should they so choose. Health care in the United States should be supported. If other countries have been so successful with the universal health care model, why can't America be? As with all acts, there will inevitably be measures that everyone will not necessarily agree with and thus, Congress needs to sit at the proverbial drawing board and work with the Obama Administration to seek common ground on the issue of health care insurance in the United States. The insurance companies will continue to try and block the universal health care model because it does not benefit them in any way. Universal health care benefits the citizens of the United States in that is allows them to receive the necessary care they need for their ailments and conditions.

Works Cited

Bentes, Margarida, Carlos M. Dias, Constantino Sakellarides, and Vaida Bankauskaite. " Health Care Systems in Transition." The Portuguese Observatory on Health Systems. WHO Regional Office for Europe on behalf of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, 105. Print.

Glied, Sherry A. "Healthcare Financing, Efficiency, and Equity." National Bureau of Economic Research , 2008. 32. Print.

Himmelstein, David U., Deborah Thorne, Elizabeth Warren, and Steffie Woolhandler. "Medical Bankruptcy in the United States, 2007: Results of a National Study." The American Journal of Medicine, 2007. 6. Print.

"Impact of ObamaCare on Jobs: Does ObamaCare Kill Jobs? ." Obamacarefacts. 2013. Web. 20 Mar. 2013. <http://obamacarefacts.com/impact-of-obamacare-on-jobs.php>

Makinson, L. "Political contributions from the health and insurance industries."Health Affairs 11.4 (1992): 119-134. Web. 20 Mar. 2013. <http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/11/4/119.full.pdf>.

"The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ." Online posting. United States Senate, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2013. <http://dpc.senate.gov/healthreformbill/healthbill04.pdf>.

Scheon, Cathy, et al. "How Many Are Underinsured? Trends Among U.S. Adults, 2003 and 2007." Health Affairs 102 (2008): Web. 20 Mar. 2013.

"The Uninsured: A Primer - Key Facts About Americans Without Health Insurance." The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2011. 25. Print.

"The world health report - Health systems financing: the path to universal coverage."World Health Organization. 2013. Web. 20 Mar. 2013. < http://www.who.int/whr/2010/en/>

Zinser, Lin, and Paul Hsieh. "Moral Health Care vs. “Universal Health Care”." The Objective Standard 2.4 (2007-2008): Print.