The debate on how the United States should approach the way the health care system is run in this country has lead to the development of mentalities shaped by health care myths rather than facts. There are many questions concerning how many people are insured, the cost of health care and who can or cannot afford it, the value of the system, and how the U.S. system compares to other countries.
1) Around 46 Million People without Health Care
The truth is, the vast majority of people who are uninsured are middle to high income Americans, who choose not to have health insurance, non-citizens, or people who rely on other government medical programs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 45 million people lack health insurance on any given day throughout the year. This does not mean that 45 million people go without health insurance every year. That number is probably closer to eight million.
2) Health Care Would Improve if Everyone was Insured
Unfortunately it’s not that simple. If everyone purchased health insurance, then taxes would be higher; there would be longer waiting lists, limited care and access to ground breaking medical developments, and forced premium payments. In 2005, the wait time for elective surgery was around 8%; while in other countries, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, the percentages were anywhere between 19%-41%.
3) Hospital Procedures Performed on the Uninsured Raise Prices
Actually, the congressional budget office (CBO) states that the amount of private insurance premiums taking responsibility for uninsured costs is quite small. In fact, in 2008, hospitals spent around 35 billion dollars on uncompensated care; in retrospect, this figure is equivalent to about 5% of the total hospital revenues.
4) The uninsured cannot Afford Health Care Coverage
While this may be true for a small percentage, the truth for most individuals in the United States is that they don’t purchase health coverage because they can’t afford it, but rather because they choose not to. Based on a study from 2007, about 17.6 million people, who made at least $50,000 a year or more, were uninsured because they did not feel that it was necessarily to spend money on heath care; or possibly, they relied on other government run programs.
5) Foreign Government Run Health Care Systems are more Efficient than the U.S.
The problems with most foreign socialized health care systems are that the wait times are drastically higher than they are in the United States. Care is often limited, and access to groundbreaking developments and medicines are not always accessible. However, certain costs, such as administration, are much higher than they are in other countries such as France or Taiwan. Foreign government run health care systems are not better than American systems, but there are some areas that may prove to be more effective.
There are many myths out there about the way that the health care system is run. One thing is for sure: if everyone were insured under a government policy, wait lines would increase drastically, the quality of service would go down, and taxes would increase.