Despite it being seen as a progressive measure, universal health care seems to be a distant dream for America’s left, who are looking at four years of Trump. While it is certainly an admirable pursuit is it actually working in the way Bernie Sanders says it is across the globe? Is it the end of the dream or are we being blinded?
It seems to be a fallacy by the right who claim universal health care goes against a free society. Ten countries who have more economic freedom than the U.S. offer health care for all citizens. The study by conservative think tank Heritage Foundation in 2015 showed that health coverage could be linked to increased economic freedom. The U.S. is easily the most developed nation not to offer such care.
It is a waste considering America is easily capable of offering it. It is a dream for so many countries but the most common reason it doesn’t happen is poverty, more than any sense of loss of freedom through government health care. Now even those with poverty issues are realizing the benefits. China, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are all offering some form of UHC. It can be at a very low cost or insurance price.
The result of universal health coverage in Thailand, who offers a nominal fee for a visit to a facility (30baht), has been a significant fall in mortality (particularly infant and child mortality, with infant mortality as low as 11 per 1,000). They have also experienced a remarkable rise in life expectancy, which is now more than 74 years at birth – major achievements for a poor country.
Rwanda is a massive success story for UHC. The country was ravaged by civil war but when that ended in 1994 they set about changing their lot. Life expectancy has doubled since the mid-90s and a paper published in the Lancet in July 2014 told of the economic benefits of this.
“Investing in health has stimulated shared economic growth as citizens live longer and with greater capacity to pursue the lives they value,” the paper states. Longer life brings longer opportunities to earn.
It is in the developed countries where trust in these forms of health care are diminishing. The United Kingdom is usually the flag bearer for UHC, with a completely free system at the point of service (NHS). It is under threat by Brexit and the plans of the conservative government at the moment. They are moving to privatize vast swathes of the NHS. This comes at a time of strikes and patient pressure. They had a record breaking 2016/2017 holiday period in hospitals in the UK.
Another big universal health care proponent, France, is seeing a transition to a conservative government looking to break up the health care system there.
Trump claimed recently that his new care plan will be more affordable and cover a wider population than Obamacare. It has already caused fractures in the Republican Party. They can't decide on how exactly to go about repealing the law. GOP lawmakers are also confused about statements made by Trump in the Washington Post concerning getting coverage for ‘everybody’. That is traditionally a Democrat's aim and they prefer to concentrate on lowering cost.
Universal health care will be a long time coming for the U.S. -- if ever at all. And as it gets slowly dismantled in the countries it works in, the poorer countries who look to emulate them will actually surpass the tangled mess of private and government health care.
Despite universal health care seeming to be unpopular in the most prominent Western nations, a whole world has seen its value and is determined to get there.