Updated: Jan 5
Although the United States is the most wealthy nation in the world, the American healthcare system is incredibly underdeveloped, even when compared to third world countries. While the majority of European nations offer universal healthcare, the healthcare system of the United States is completely privatized. Although universal healthcare has its downsides, such as longer waiting times and lower quality of care, this trade off is more than fair for the vast majority of Americans. The COVID-19 pandemic has truly unveiled how far behind the United States is, despite its massive wealth.
Universal healthcare is often smeared as being “extreme” or “radical” in American politics, but universal healthcare is the norm in almost all of Europe and even in many third world countries. In fact, the complete privatization of healthcare is more uncommon for a developed nation than universal healthcare.
Corporations only care about one thing: profit. They do not care about the well being of humans, they only care about profit. Supporters of the privatization of healthcare often claim that competition will drive the prices of drugs down. However, this is not the case. Not only is American healthcare privatised, it is also monopolized in many aspects, such as the pharmaceutical industry. A monopoly is when a company, or a small group of companies, control the entire market of a good. Due to lack of competitors, they can charge any price they want, because there are not any competitors that can beat their price. Monopolization kills competition, and monopolization is the inevitable result of privatization. People are willing to pay large amounts of money for goods that are necessary. American drug companies know this, and that is why they charge extreme amounts for drugs. A 2018 study concluded that it takes $2.28-$3.42 to make one vial of insulin (Gotham, Barber, Hill). However, since monopolies can charge virtually any price without a decrease in the quantity demanded, companies often charge hundreds of dollars for one vial of insulin, when it only costs them a couple of dollars to make that same vial. This is not what healthcare is about. Healthcare is supposed to be about helping people who are disadvantaged, not putting them down.
Many opponents to universal healthcare often point to the United States having the highest quality of care in the world. Although this is true, having the best healthcare is useless when many Americans cannot even access the best healthcare. The socialization of healthcare does have downsides. The quality of healthcare in Europe is good as opposed to excellent, and the waiting times are longer. However, these downsides are irrelevant to the majority of Americans who cannot afford, or barely afford healthcare. Even for slightly wealthier Americans, if they get one bad injury, or one big hospital visit, they are out of business. Having longer waiting times and not the best care in the world is a good trade off for not having to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for necessary drugs and hospital visits, and not having to live the rest of their lives in debt. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened this issue as well, clearly unveiling how bad our system is in emergencies. With many Americans out of a job, or living on cut wages, it is obvious that many Americans would be anxious about the cost of hospital visits, on top of the anxiety of themselves or a loved one getting sick. A Gallup poll estimated that 50% of Americans live in fear of bankruptcy due to a medical event (Witters).
Universal Healthcare is not a radical nor impractical idea. Now especially it is the time for lives to be valued more than money. Not only are the drug makers putting money above lives, but so are our congresspeople. They have always shilled for big pharmaceutical companies through lobbying. While Americans are being forced to work from home at lower wages, or being completely out of a job, our representatives and senators are still shilling for the pharmaceutical companies. Americans need to vote out politicians who support lobbying, and start voting for politicians who want to take money out of politics. Lobbying is bribery and this is how Americans have been scammed into paying thousands upon thousands of dollars for healthcare that the rest of the world enjoy for free or at cost. The United States is the wealthiest nation on the planet and it is a disgrace that the United States does not guarantee healthcare to all of its citizens, regardless of employment or financial status.