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Should healthcare be free? Show more Show less
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Access to healthcare is essential for our quality of life and longevity. But healthcare doesn't come cheap. Should individuals be forced to pay their own healthcare costs? Is healthcare an inalienable human right? What are the pros and cons of free healthcare?

Yes, healthcare should be free Show more Show less

Healthcare systems that are free for the public at the point of use reduce financial inequality, improves economic productivity, and save human lives.
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Free healthcare is cheaper

First-world countries with universal centralized or 2-tier healthcare tend to spend less money Per Capita and achieve better personal care, lower infant mortality and longer lifespans than those with just private healthcare.
Healthcare

The Argument

In the United States, 2016 average spending Per Capita was $9,892, with 0.57% infant mortality rate; and these numbers are also growing at a faster rate than every other developed country.[1] The high cost of care is increasing the number of preventable deaths because people simply can't afford decent health care. Studies show that preventative health care reduces the need of emergency medical care. As more people have access to preventative medicine, this reduction of inequality also reduces costlier emergency treatments.[2] A single-payer system allows cost growth to be directly controlled over time in a way that’s not possible with a privatized system. Government can negotiate and regulate good prices from providers, there are economies of scale for very large volume orders, and usage of generic drugs (with no mark-ups) can be prioritized. In a private system, prices and profit margins are increased as much as the market can bear them. Also, in a government-controlled healthcare system there's no need to generate profit for a private company, so all money can be spent directly on healthcare. Universal health care would overall reduce the prices and exorbitant spending in the US.

Counter arguments

While the US does spend the most on healthcare, making healthcare free would not reduce costs. In fact, the "Medicare for All" act would actually raise costs by $32 trillion, and increase taxes by 20%.[3] This strain on the economy would only make a bad situation worse, especially during the Covid crisis. Preventable deaths are not the fault of the US healthcare system; it is the poor health choices and habits of the population which causes preventable deaths.[4] Reducing preventable deaths would indeed lower emergency medical care and decrease costs, but reforming the US healthcare system will not reduce preventable deaths. Educating the population on proper diet, exercise, and the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, will. For-profit systems encourage competition which ensures only the best healthcare stays in business.[5] Growth in the medical field depends on competition to drive medical scientists and doctors to discover life-saving breakthroughs. Free, universal healthcare is not cheaper and would be more of a burden on Americans than a help.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] The US spends more on healthcare than any other country. [P2] Affordable preventative care reduces costs in the long run. [P3] For-profit systems drive prices up as much as possible, while universal healthcare would enable focus on growth in the medical field and the overall well-being of the population. [P4] Universal healthcare is cheaper.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] While the US does spend the most on healthcare, making healthcare free would not reduce costs. [Rejecting P2] The "Medicare for All" act would actually raise costs and taxes. [Rejecting P3] For-profit systems encourage competition which ensures only the best healthcare stays in business. [Rejecting P4] Free healthcare is not cheaper.

References

  1. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/news/us-health-spending-remains-highest-among-developed-countries-prices-to-blame
  2. https://healthpayerintelligence.com/news/how-preventive-healthcare-services-reduce-spending-for-payers
  3. https://www.rpc.senate.gov/policy-papers/medicare-for-all-higher-taxes-fewer-choices-longer-lines#:~:text=The%20proposed%20Medicare%20for%20All,increase%20in%20their%20personal%20taxes.
  4. https://www.lhsfna.org/index.cfm/lifelines/august-2014/cdc-nearly-half-of-u-s-deaths-can-be-prevented/#:~:text=Preventable%20Deaths%2FPremature%20Dying,from%20in%20the%20U%20S.
  5. https://www.statnews.com/2017/09/20/hospitals-competition-health-care/

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 27 Oct 2020 at 10:48 UTC

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