Why America needs universal healthcare

Noelle Texidor, Opinion Columnist

As someone who rides horses, and has done so for most of my life, I risked my safety and health every time I got on the back of a horse. Unsurprisingly, there were times when I got hurt. Every time I would leave the emergency room, my parents would have an exorbitant medical bill that could eventually be paid with the help of health insurance. However, for many people, that isn’t the case. 

Near the end of World War II, employers began offering health insurance to their workers instead of higher wages. Since then, the U.S. hasn’t had the political will to change this policy. If people don’t have jobs that provide healthcare insurance, then they will have to pay out of pocket.

According to Johonniuss Chemweno, a writer for Managed Healthcare Executive, about 16 percent (or 50 million people) of the U.S. population lack insurance coverage. Different medical expenditures, such as pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, have become even more unaffordable for people in marginalized communities. Medical bills and other medical costs are routinely high out of pocket expenses. Poorer communities still continue to lack access to primary healthcare services, forcing them to rely on emergency departments to treat chronic diseases and preventive care. 

Considering that many people throughout the U.S. struggle to pay for their medical bills and others don’t have health insurance to begin with, the United States needs to opt for universal health care. With the lack of health insurance coverage, there are severe consequences for the U.S. economy. According to the Center for American Progress, the lack of health insurance in the U.S. costs society between $124 billion and $248 billion per year. There is also a rise in shortened lifespans and the loss of productivity due to the reduced health of those who are uninsured. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was believed that universal health care could have saved more than 338,000 lives from the virus alone, according to Rachel Nuwer, a writer for Scientific American. Nuwer explained that a recent study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA showed that the U.S. could have saved $105.6 billion in healthcare costs associated with hospitalizations due to COVID-19. The researchers of the study also estimated how much it would cost to insure the entire U.S. population and the savings that measure would produce. Nuwer said that universal health care would generate savings in three ways: more efficient investment in preventive care, lowered administrative costs and increased negotiating power for pharmaceuticals, equipment and fees. Apparently this would have produced savings of $459 billion in 2020. 

It’s necessary that the U.S. at least considers the possibilities of universal health care, not only because it would benefit the economy, but also because it would help to provide care for those who aren’t able to regularly go to a doctor for checkups. While taxes may have to increase to fund universal health care, the overall advantages that would come out of a policy like this would help the United States rather than harm it.