Should the Federal Government Provide Health Care for All Citizens Who Cannot Afford Their Own?

Topics: Health care, Universal health care, Medicine Pages: 7 (2039 words) Published: March 31, 2011

Health care is not a privilege. In fact, a good level and quality on healthcare should be an inalienable right for all people. Social class, status or economic situation shouldn’t dictate who live and enjoy of good health or who doesn’t. Healthcare in America should be universal, continuous, and affordable to all individuals and families. Although some of the states in the US are taking unilateral measures not to focus exclusively on the poor, but seeks to guarantee health access to any uninsured people, achieving universal coverage will require federal leadership and support, regardless of which strategy is adopted to achieve this goal.

The president and Congress should strive to achieve universal health coverage in the United States by 2010, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. The escalating costs of the current situation call for prompt action, the report says. And the question of how much responsibility the U.S. government should take for the health care of its citizens is a controversial one. “For those who can afford it we have the best health-care system in the world.. However, the United states is the only major industrialized country that does not guarantee every citizen, regardless of income, access to affordable health care.” (Kerry, 123) And for middle-class families which include the gross of US population, the problem is even worst since they don’t qualify for any kind of public-assistance programs. . Consequences of Lack of Universal Healthcare:

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in its report documents the consequences of lack of health insurance. Among the findings, these reports noted that: 1. Uninsured Americans get about half the medical care of those with health insurance. As a result, they tend to be sicker and to die sooner 2. About 18,000 unnecessary deaths occur each year because of lack of health insurance.

3. Only half of uninsured children visited a physician during 2001, compared with three-quarters of insured children. Lack of regular care can result in more expensive care for preventable or treatable conditions, and disruptions in learning and development.
4. When even one family member is uninsured, the entire family is at risk for the financial consequences of a catastrophic illness or injury. 5. Tax dollars paid for an estimated 85 percent of the roughly $35 billion in un- reimbursed medical care for the uninsured in 2008. 6. The burden of uncompensated care has been a factor in the closure of some hospitals and the unavailability of services in others. Disruptions in service can affect all who are served by a facility, even those who have health insurance. 7. The United States loses the equivalent of $65 billion to $130 billion annually as a result of the poor health and early deaths of uninsured adults.

The current U.S. system of federal healthcare came into being in 1965 through Congress’s amendment of the Social Security Act and the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare began as a national health insurance program for persons age 65 and over, regardless of income or wealth. In 1973, coverage was extended for those on disability for at least two consecutive years. Medicare provides enrollees with a basic program of hospital insurance and supplementary assistance program to aid in paying healthcare bills (Raffel, 221). Through this, everyone who is old enough receives some healthcare.

Medicaid is also a national health insurance program, but it is administered by states and it can potentially assist a broader range of people than Medicare. The program serves to provide services for the “categorically...

Cited: Barlett, D. and Steele, J. Health Care Can Be Cured: Here’s How. Newsweek, October 11, 2004 50 - 53
Gardner, A
Kerry, John. A call to Service. New York: Viking, 2003.

Kotlikoff, Laurence J. The Healthcare Fix: Universal Insurance for all Americans.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2007
Le Bow, R. Health Care Meltdown: Confronting the myths and fixing our failing system. Chambersburg, PA: Alan C. Hood & Company, Inc. 2003.

Mueller, R. As sick as it gets: the shocking reality of America’s healthcare. New York. Dunkirk, 2001
Raffel, M
Strosberg, M., Wiener, J., & Baker, R. Rationing America’s medical care: the Oregon Plan and beyond. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1992.
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