(By Louis Toffoli)
There has been a long-standing debate throughout the United States on the topic of healthcare. Some Americans believe that healthcare prices are too high, while others believe this is a necessity for great healthcare.
Is a private healthcare system better than a government-regulated one? Whichever side you are on, it is always a good idea to understand the implications of reducing healthcare prices or making it free.
We will be exploring if it is plausible to make U.S. healthcare free. We will also take a look at countries that already have free healthcare and discuss the changes the U.S. would need to make it happen here.
Making the Switch to a Single-Payer System
When Americans think of making healthcare free, they typically think of switching to a single-payer healthcare system. In this system, the federal government would cover healthcare for every American.
Several countries have adopted this style of single-payer healthcare system. Some of the most notable countries are:
This national health coverage is not entirely foreign to the United States, as those over the age of 65 or disabled get benefits through Medicare health insurance. Funded by taxes, the federal government covers medical expenses for each person. But, what if this system was for every American?
The single-payer healthcare system, usually referred to as “Medicare for All,” has gained popularity for years. In a Hill-HarrisX poll conducted in 2020, sixty-nine percent of Americans favored the system.
While Medicare for All seems like a no-brainer for Americans, this healthcare system doesn’t come without its negative consequences. Once told about the potential 20% increase in personal taxes, more than two-thirds of Americans no longer supported this healthcare plan.
With taxes inevitably rising with a universal healthcare plan, the backlash will make it hard to pass through a divided U.S.
The Rising Price of the US Healthcare System
The price of healthcare has risen drastically. The United States has the highest global healthcare budget. Much of this spending is attributed to the United States’ higher salaries, record-high drug prices, and administrative costs in the healthcare industry.
With this in mind, many advocates see a clear way of cutting healthcare costs: government intervention. Their claim is that if the U.S. government set the prices for healthcare and negotiated drug prices this could significantly lower healthcare costs.
Lowering healthcare prices would also require a significant transformation in how administrative costs are spent. The United States spends 8% yearly on these costs, compared to the average 1% to 3% of other nations.
In addition to setting prices in healthcare, increasing the competition among healthcare equipment and drug manufacturing companies may also help drive down prices.
Healthcare Outlook in 2021
While the idea of making healthcare less costly or free is very enticing, the United States government has the final say in all changes. Does the U.S. government believe there should be free healthcare in 2021?
Currently, the Medicare for All dream has been all but squashed with the current divided political landscape. Many of the proponents for Medicare for All are in the minority, with the rest of the U.S. Senate looking to keep our current healthcare system.
Our current healthcare system looks to remain for the foreseeable future, with many believing the switch will be too costly. Some smaller changes are being made to lower the prices of certain prescription drugs.
However, the U.S. government and the FDA have limited say in what a drug manufacturer can charge for any specific drug. This has sparked outrage, as many Americans have gotten priced out of lifesaving drugs like insulin.
In this brief article, we discussed whether it’s plausible for the United States to lower healthcare or make it entirely free. As we have seen, there doesn’t seem to be a hard push in 2021 to change our healthcare system.
Many Americans are put off by the negatives aspect of a singel-payer healthcare system in other countries. Problems such as a rise in personal taxes, the long wait lists to receive care, and sometimes a difference in the quality of care depending on the location.
There may be changes made soon, but nothing drastic that changes the entirety of the current healthcare system.