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OPINION: How do you like your healthcare?

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A sign advertising flu shots was placed in front of the University Services Building. This year, Campus Health has surpassed the number of flu shots given out last year.

There are many pros and cons to having universal healthcare. Canada, the United Kingdom and most of Europe have adopted this structure. The United States is one of few Western countries that do not subscribe to this system.

One of the main reasons why the United States has not implemented universal healthcare is due to the massive cost. Universal healthcare is almost always funded by taxpayer dollars, and the government usually hires private companies to administer care. Many people may argue that Obamacare was a form of centralized healthcare. While the two are very similar, Obamacare had too many exceptions for it to be considered “universal.” 

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However, in the countries that implement universal healthcare, there are usually other types of healthcare that are offered to encourage competition. They often use private, prepaid and pay-as-you-go insurances as well. While the United States’ healthcare system is vastly different from centralized health care, there are various advantages and disadvantages to these two systems. 

One advantage to universal healthcare is linked directly to hospital staff. Because there is one system, it is very easy for staff to deal with billing and insurance rules. It helps the process significantly because there is only one procedure as opposed to dealing with various types of insurance plans. It is believed to create a more fluid work environment. 

In the United States in 2017, nearly half of medical care actually came from emergency room visits, because people misused the service. Many individuals were using the emergency room as their primary care, which backed up the system significantly. In a centralized system, this would not be the case, because primary care is available to all who apply. 

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There are also many disadvantages to the universal healthcare system. The costs can skyrocket for individuals because they are paying for other citizens’ medical costs. People who suffer from more serious afflictions such as heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, etc. make up 85 percent of healthcare costs for everyone. 

Due to having a safety net, people may overuse the services, leading to even more costs because there is no incentive to do otherwise. There is also much less pay for doctors, which might mean lower-quality care. This also, in turn, means less funding for medical technologies that could save lives in the long run. The system can be so expensive that it can easily become the main margin of government budgets, allowing less money spent on education, homeless shelters, infrastructure, etc. 

One of the biggest and most crucial disadvantages of this system are the wait times for elective procedures. Elective procedures include: hip and knee replacements, cataract removal, mastectomies for breast cancer, kidney donations and all optional surgeries. The wait times can span over months to sometimes even more than a year. In terms of cancers and other, more serious medical conditions, the wait time can be fatal. It is hard to imagine living in a country where one might fear getting these diseases knowing that the wait time is monumental. Even when patients are seen, the healthcare may not be as ideal as the United States' because of the low-paid doctors. In many cases, patients end up coming to the United States to receive faster and better medical care. 

There are many advantages and disadvantages to universal healthcare. It seems as though it could be worth it if a person does not develop a serious affliction. Even if a person does not contract a serious illness, a perfectly healthy individual will have to fund the care of expensive treatments for seriously sick patients. The system seems flawed and hopelessly expensive in the long run. Personally, I highly advocate for the system that the United States offers. 


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