The importance of relooking at universal healthcare



It is not hard to conceive that universal healthcare has recently become popular, being in the midst of a pandemic as we are. According to polls, "about 41% of [Americans] say they're more likely to support universal healthcare proposals. Twenty-six percent of U.S. adults say they're "much more likely" to support such policy initiatives, while 15% say they're somewhat more likely" (1). I find this increase in popularity of universal healthcare boding well for the future of the Unities States, whose historically set precedent of capitalism will hopefully take a turn with something as impactful as a pandemic. 


The U.S., compared to countries such as South Korea, which quickly deployed universally accessible screening, has been at a glaring disadvantage, lacking testing kits and only doing testing on those that show symptoms. High healthcare costs and low supplies have made the U.S. especially vulnerable to this pandemic, and the lack of free access to universal healthcare is rearing its ugly head. 


Americans, with their high uninsured rate and even higher additional costs, risk not seeking care at all compared to other countries where the citizens have access to healthcare. Even before the beginning of COVID-19, "the United States had fewer doctors and fewer hospital beds per capita than most other developed countries" (2). Testing has been slow, at best, and is reliant on the capitalist economy of private labs to release testing kits that match the capacity of the U.S. population. The U.S. is clearly far behind other countries in keeping up with the infection rates and promoting a healthy society with enough testing. 


The lack of testing kits leaves the nation especially vulnerable. Testing is essential because it allows people to be diagnosed and for hospital staff to administer an appropriate treatment. It is also important for the numbers; government officials should know the infection rates, how many people have been tested, how many people show symptoms, how many people don't show symptoms, etc., in order to monitor the pandemic accurately and base their economic decisions on them. But without universal testing, which could have been an already-established aspect of universal healthcare, we are left with uncertain numbers. Experts do not know the accurate size of the problem. 


Our healthcare system is extremely flawed. In many studies, the U.S. ranks as the worst healthcare system amongst developed nations. A large percentage of our citizens lack health insurance. Our citizens carry much more medical debt than other citizens of other nations. Our citizens die at higher rates from preventable conditions. Our citizens wait to go to the hospital much longer than other citizens, being concerned about cost more than health. Our system is much more costly on the average citizen than other systems. All these weaknesses are being revealed right now in the midst of this pandemic. And it is high time we addressed these weaknesses. 



(1) https://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/coronavirus-pandemic-makes-universal-healthcare-more-popular-latest-morning-consult-poll

(2) https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/3/16/21173766/coronavirus-covid-19-us-cases-health-care-system

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