The recent passing of President Obama’s Health Care reform law – The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, in the United States has led to a flutter of multifarious emotions with those from the opposing side expressing scathing opinions as to what the reform will lead to. A difficult objective to perfect, health care systems seem to be of constant debate between political parties – and one of the most debated points is that of cost. It can be of fair assumption that as one of the wealthiest countries in the world we would spend more to have a superior health care system – in 2012 alone we earmarked nearly 20% of our GDP for healthcare, more than that of 12 other industrialized countries. There are numerous reasons as to why healthcare in general is such a costly endeavor in any country – such as providing coverage to an entire population and the inelastic price of treatment. However, if these are cost that virtually every developed country encounters, why is so much more for the same services in the United States – why is our more money, just leading us to more problems?
One of the primary cost generating issues with the United States health care system verses comparative countries that offer socialized health care schemes is the inefficiency in our preventive health care services. Those who are able to obtain health insurance either privately or via their employer are afforded the luxury of regular doctors’ visits for very little co-pays – making it easier to stay healthy. However, despite being uninsured the remaining Americans are still entitled to receive treatment, though they must bear the entire cost of service. Their inability to access affordable and regular services often forces them when in dire straits to utilize the most expensive options available – such as emergency rooms. The costs associated with such visits are often too much for these individuals which leads to non-payment or bankruptcy filings, which then leaves the exorbitant cost of that of the taxpayer. The United States also doesn’t have a centralized negotiation system when it comes to bringing the cost of things down. Health care providers have no incentive to mitigate cost and simply charge whatever it is that they are able to get away with – which brings us to the final point of services in
America simply just cost more than they do in other countries-substantially more. In some instances, Americans will pay virtually double for a service than that of our developed country counterparts.
Despite spending more money on health care, an estimated 34% more than comparable countries, our overall health still ranks several notches lower than regions that spend significantly less; and our life expectancy is no better despite our expenditures as we rank 51st globally. It just goes to show, money cannot buy you everything-and the best things in life (such as socialized health care) are free.