Living in a different country means one has to adapt and understand the new dynamics. Coming from a country with a universally free healthcare system, it’s a little unsettling knowing that a health mishap could potentially cause bankruptcy in America.
In the United Kingdom there is the National Health Service (NHS), established in 1948, which is the largest and oldest single-payer healthcare system in the world. It receives over £100 billion per year in funding from the government, which subsequently provides the UK with peace of mind and quality of care everyone deserves. There is a small surcharge for some services such as prescriptions, dental and optical care, but these are subsidized as long as one remains in the public health system. State-funded health does come with downfalls: waiting lists, overcrowded hospitals and abuse of the system; however, one can avoid this by ‘going private’ if they are financially equipped to do.
In the US, the healthcare system combined is estimated to be worth $3 trillion, which is shocking as most hospitals are supposedly nonprofit. To have security and reassurance that one bad day isn’t going to cause financial ruin. Individuals must obtain medical insurance which entails: costly and constantly changing premiums and terms and conditions for the care they’ll receive. If their current situation doesn’t allow them to get insurance then, counter-intuitively, the government will impose fines and the hospital will demand astronomical charges.
In the U.S., a recent study shows that medical bills are the primary cause of 60 percent of bankruptcies each year and 75 percent of bankruptcies due to unpaid bills, the people had insurance, money that could’ve been used to relieve other debt. It also seems that there’s some dishonesty in the purportedly ‘for the people’ hospitals. It’s estimated that hospitals overcharge Americans by over $10 billion per year, with one medical billing advocate reporting that 90 percent of medical bills contained gross overcharges.
A free health care system in America would provide reassurance to the whole population, as well a equality and substantially less stress, but keeping the option of having private healthcare for those who’d opt for it. The US needs to jump on the bandwagon with the UK and Canada and make a great country greater.