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National Health Care, Term Paper Example

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Term Paper

Nationalizing health care has of recent times received immense attention from diverse quarters across the social and political spheres of the American public life. It became a critical topic during the last presidential elections whereby it was one of the key platforms that the Obama administration promised to overhaul once elected. Nationalizing health care generally is a system where any and all willing citizens are provided with universal health coverage. It is meant to provide health coverage to all eligible residents of a country and it covers medical, dental and mental health service provision. This is usually carried out as a government programme which is funded by taxpayers through publicly funded programmes.  Provision of universal healthcare has become more of a basic right extended towards citizens of several developed countries. However, the United States does not provide universal health care for its citizens; the only one among developed countries. Only a selected group of citizens receive universal healthcare, mostly through Medicare and Medicaid. Universal health care systems differ according to the degree of involvement by the government. Some developed countries have a high degree of involvement by the government. Some of these countries include the UK and the Scandinavian countries. Access to health care services in these countries is based on residence rights and not on the purchase of insurance (Smee, 2006).

The healthcare reform debate in the country is now at a critical stage where it is now being debated by legislators of the United States congress. Key issues in the reform package that are under scrutiny include coverage, strategies to reduce costs, reforming the medical insurance industry and the extent to which the federal government can involve itself in the provision of the universal care. Proponents for and those against universal healthcare provision have both come out strongly with each group trying to justify why their stand on the debate is the best when it comes to the overall health of all citizens. My stand on this debate is that nationalizing health care should be discouraged at all costs.

One key reason why health care should not be nationalized is that by doing so will be contrary to the constitution of the country. Constitutionally, the Congress does not have the power to create a universal healthcare system. The constitution vests any power not granted to the congress to the states or the people. Therefore nationalizing health care would be going against people’s freedom of choice. By allowing the government to make health care decisions on their behalf, citizens lose the opportunity to make important decisions about their personal health life. Important health decision making would be transferred to bureaucrats who will end up compromising the quality of services provided (Blodgett, 2009).  A critical service like health care needs to be run by efficient institutions and the current government departments cannot be trusted to effectively deliver effective services to the citizens.

Nationalizing health care will put a strain on the already overtaxed citizens. Nationalizing healthcare does not mean that it has now become free. Instead, it is other key important economic sectors which will be affected through increased taxation to fund the huge budgetary requirements of nationalized health care services. It therefore doesn’t become any cheaper to access health care because citizens will be exposed to other higher taxes or spending by the government to other crucial sectors of the economy (Jonathan, 2009). The government is more likely to infringe on personal freedoms of individuals by increasing taxes on smokers, people who drink and those into fast foods. Therefore, any unhealthy lifestyle will raise the dollar cost to the society (Smee, 2006). Nationalization of healthcare will motivate politicians to pass more hefty taxes that are directed towards these groups of people in an effort to raise revenues to sustain the programme. High prices as a result of hefty ‘sin’ taxes means that people’s options to enjoy their favorite food and drinks, even in moderation is no longer available. This therefore becomes another ways of controlling people’s lives and hence their freedom.

Furthermore, healthcare nationalization should be discouraged because it is more likely to discourage competition and individual ingenuity. Nationalization will eliminate profit motives among health providers. Competition has always encouraged greater control and effectiveness leading to better provision of services. Majority of health care providers will have no choice but to work for the government which comes with very few incentives and motivation. Unlike those in private practice who have numerous opportunities to gain significance growth in career, working for the nationalized health system would lead to very few incentives to those who are employed in the system as opposed to the private system where many opportunities for growth abound. Nationalizing the health care system will do away with competition, especially among the pharmaceutical companies. Competition promotes innovation. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms thrive on innovation and competition in order to come up with breakthrough health products that make huge impacts to society (Blodgett, 2009). Nationalized healthcare funding through the government would erode the gains made in medicine research since the government as a stakeholder in the health industry would insist in being part and parcel of the research, product development and sharing of returns accruing from sale of healthcare products. The end results are that these companies might decide to leave the industry and therefore negatively impact on the sustainability of the programme. Competition in the health sector has brought with it tremendous growth in the economy of the United States, surpassing even those countries that had had embraced universal health care much earlier.

Another argument against nationalization of health care is that controlling health care services through the government is likely to lead to a reduction in the flexibility of patients. It is difficult to categorize and prioritize the significance of each medical condition under nationalized healthcare. For example, it would be very difficult to categorize a surgical condition as either elective or required and whether it is required or not. It is obvious that challenges will come up in deciding whether to carry out any surgical procedures they encounter, whether for aesthetic or therapeutic value;  the cost implications brought about by such cases will be very enormous. The implication here is that every medical procedure becomes politicized. Simple medical tasks that would need immediate and urgent attention take time to be attended to. Nationalization of healthcare in countries like Canada has brought about similar problems whereby a patient has to wait for over six months just to get a routine pap smear (Blodgett, 2009).

Also with nationalization, patients are less likely to reduce their usage of drugs and visits to physicians if healthcare is free. The system is likely to come under abuse from patients who would want to get medication for whatever kind of condition however minor it might be. The implication here is that total costs will rise substantially as compared to the current ones. Some medical conditions do not necessarily require a patient to see a doctor, but since services are offered freely, there may be a tendency to abuse them and hence the increased costs. Moreover, beauracratic rules and procedures brought about by government involvement are more likely to affect the flexibility and responsiveness of doctors and hence result in poor patient care. This is because doctors will be obliged to work under the rules and decisions made by the government that is controlled by the politics of the day.

Nationalizing healthcare systems will require significant transitions which will bring about adverse changes in the economy of the country. The most affected industry will be the insurance industry which could face massive job losses. Other businesses which depend on the insurance industry will also be adversely affected. It will also involve coming up with new patient records which might require substantial investment of resources. Although the government beauracracy might be able to absorb some workers affected by the transition, majority of those serving the industry will remain unemployed or get jobs of lesser stature.

Furthermore, nationalized health care means that those people who are healthy and can take care of themselves will be forced to pay for the burden of those who engage in risky behaviors like smoking and heavy drinking. What it means here is that the cost of health care will be unfairly spread across all the population. Those who consciously take care of their health through eating right, exercising and regular check- ups are forced to offset the health expenses of those who have adopted unhealthy lifestyles.

In addition, adopting a nationalized health care policy means that there is a reduction in private practice opportunities for those who are aspiring to pursue medical courses. Poor terms and conditions found in government employment may discourage many aspiring health workers from pursuing professions related to health. Also, a poor appraisal system inherent in the civil service means that doctors who work harder than the rest may not get any recognition for their efforts. Currently, there is a shortage of qualified medical personnel, especially doctors and nurses to deal with the current health needs of Americans. Nationalizing health care will only worsen the situation. According to the American academy of family physicians, the country will face a shortage of almost 50,000 health providers in the primary health care in the next ten years. These grim statistics shows just how already strain the healthcare system is (Donald, 2008).

Other reasons why healthcare should not be nationalized is that the government will have to contend with malpractice lawsuit costs. By funding all health care, the government will expose itself to legal liability from different quarters. It will be responsible for any acts of commission or omission that might have been committed by the health workers in the system.

Besides, there are concerns related to the confidentiality of the patients’ information in the hands of the government. There are chances of compromising the confidentiality of patients’ records as a result of the government putting them in a one central place. Even though putting the information in a one centralized information system may assist in minimizing costs that come with record keeping, the challenge arises when it comes to ensuring that the patients’ information is as confidential as possible, given the possibility of the information system being hacked. Therefore lack of privacy is likely to compromise the effective roll out of a nationalized health care programme.

Finally, health care should not be nationalized because of the overall concern over quality. Nationalizing health care means that critical health decisions would be left to the politicians instead of the relevant professionals who have a better grasp and understanding of the complexities of health issues. With limited and scarce resources being a constant feature of any country’s economy, a key and fundamental sector like health should not be nationalized because quality service will always come second with much emphasis being put on quantity. This could lead to scenarios whereby key medical resources like drugs end up being rationed due to obvious and glaring shortages.

Conclusion

Whether a universal and free health care system should be implemented remains a hot topic of debate in the political arena. Nationalizing health care will not be the best solution to the numerous health care problems facing the citizens. The government should put up programmes that are meant to subsidize health care provision and increase more ownership of the health care resources by the majority, especially to the poor. Every person, whether rich or poor should be able to make a choice based on their health care needs on the best options to take to achieve their healthcare needs. Therefore, nationalizing healthcare will not solve the current problems facing the country, but will only make them worse.

References

Blodgett, J. (2009) ” Pros, Cons, and Misconceptions About the National Health Care Bill. 13 Aug. 2009 EzineArticles.com. 6 Dec. 2009 <http://ezinearticles.com/?Pros,-Cons,-­and-­Misconceptions-­About-­the-­National-­Health-­Care-­Bill&id=2758153

Donald,W. (2008) Universal Health Care: Lessons From the British Experience PAm J Public Health. 93(1): 25–30.

Jonathan, J. (2009) Cost of Health Care and Reform, Universal Coverage. The New England Journal of Medicine. 125(3) 26-45.

Smee, C. (2006), “Department of Health Special Section: Reconsidering the Role of Competition in Health Care Markets“, Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 25, 945-951,

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