Column: Healthcare is a human right, and America is doing it wrong
America needs to start thinking about universal healthcare
Oct. 09, 2018
Abigail Ruhman is a freshman journalism and political science major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about student life, politics and social issues for The Maneater.
One of my best friends had to get her leg amputated. While her family was going through an extremely emotional time, they also had to deal with financial stress.
As a junior in high school, Holly Sullivan was trying to fundraise for her own prosthetic. Her mother set up a GoFundMe campaign. The Help Holly Run Like the Wind campaign raised enough money for her first prosthetic.
Two years later, Sullivan’s prosthetic no longer fit due to muscle loss and she needed a new one. The Keep Holly Running campaign launched in April 2018 with the goal of funding a new prosthetic. She isn’t the only one that depends on GoFundMe and other online fundraising websites for medical expenses.
According to the Advisory Board, an organization working to improve efficiency and care within the medical industry, CEO of GoFundMe Rob Solomon explained that one out of three of the campaigns on the website is intended to pay medical bills.
For many, insurance has become something that must be crowdfunded. The lack of dependable health insurance has actually cost thousands of lives. According to the Department of Medicine at Cambridge Medical Alliance, the epidemic of poor insurance coverage is associated with as many as 44,789 deaths annually.
There is a lesson to be learned from GoFundMe’s success: America may be ready to take steps toward universal healthcare. With millions of donors coming together to raise billions of dollars, it may be time to re-evaluate Americans interest in health care for everyone.
According to the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of Americans believe that the government should ensure that all Americans have health insurance. According to Politico, one-third of the American population is in favor of a single-payer health coverage.
For some, support for universal health care is difficult to develop because of a misconception of what that actually means. Single-payer health care and universal health care are the same systems. Both are a system that centralizes health care to the government. From there, it tends to be delegated to smaller, local governments. The government acts as the “single-payer,” which is what actually makes it universal. The people get what the people pay for, making it a system that is fair and beneficial in many ways.
As single-payer health care begins to gain more support, it is time for America to take steps in that direction. Conservative Americans have started to support the ideology behind universal health care because it’s starting to make more sense than the current system.
According to Forbes, countries with universal health care tend to have more economic freedom. Avik Roy, president of Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, explains that the inequality within healthcare is derived from the inequality in subsidies.
The government provides more subsidies to healthcare in areas not associated with lower-income communities. Because upper-class communities are the people who can afford to pay for healthcare, the subsidies are not being used effectively. The government isn’t helping lower-income communities by giving this money to those who don’t need it.
Another incentive for universal health care is that it offers better care. Canada provides a prime example of this.
According to the Harvard Business Review, Canadians pay less for medical care that is ultimately better. The Canadian system is based on the idea that the government uses tax dollars to cover point-of-care treatment. Provinces and territories are tasked with actually providing this care. Some fear of a government take over but after decades of this system in Canada, doctors and physicians still remain independent.
With everything that makes Canada’s system so great, one of the major problems is that they experience some of the longest wait times for medical care in the world. This has become a concern for those opposed to universal health care, but there are already solutions that can be implemented with the policy.
For example, one solution is “activity-based funding.” Essentially, rather than the government giving them an annual global budget while hoping it covers that years expenses. As an alternative, activity-based funding bases funding off of past expenses of the hospital.
This push isn’t just for politicians. Younger doctors have started to see the major benefits of universal health care. Members of the American Medical Association's student section explained to Tonic that the next generation of doctors believe that healthcare is a human right.
Students within the organization are not as concerned about the government intervening with medical care, which is a major shift from the organization's long-term opposition to single-payer medical care. Younger medical professionals want to see their patients taken care of, and they are willing to fight bigger organizations to get it done. By listening to these professionals, it may save American lives.
Health care shouldn’t come with the requirement to fundraise money for necessary care. The success of medical GoFundMe campaigns show that when people come together they can help change people’s lives.
The fact that someone has to ask for help from random strangers online proves that America has a major problem. Universal health care may be the answer. With the health and economic benefits, single-payer care should be a no-brainer. Americans can not let party lines get in the way of saving someone’s life. Freedom comes at a cost, but not at the price of a human life.