The Best Things in Life Are Free — The Road to Universal Health Care
We all agree that health is the most important thing in the world and yet so many times I have heard of and read about the following debate “Is healthcare a right or a privilege?” especially in the American press. I am going to try to not even address this “question” in my article below. Asking if healthcare is a right is the same as asking if LIFE is a right. I would say this: life IS a right and we are all privileged to be living it. Health is a right and we SHOULD be all privileged to be granted its f r e e, or at least affordable care.
To start off, here are some stats provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:
- At least half of the world’s population still does not have full coverage of essential health services.
- About 100 million people are still being pushed into extreme poverty (defined as living on 1.90 USD or less a day) because they have to pay for health care.
- Over 800 million people (almost 12% of the world’s population) spent at least 10% of their household budgets to pay for health care.
The current lack of universal health care is not only pushing people from lower income families into poverty and into the development of life threatening health conditions, but it is also exposing richer individuals face financial hardship in the event of severe or long-term illness.
What can our governments do?
The sheer cost of providing quality health care makes universal health care a large expense for governments since it is funded by general income taxes or payroll taxes. Countries would need to work with the private sector to cut healthcare costs and expand quality care.
Providing effective universal health coverage systems requires countries to develop new models of healthcare delivery and financing to adapt to changing needs, such as investment in primary care. An effective primary care combined with a broader network of social services is beneficial for a number of factors: it opens doors for additional nursing staff and boosts economy, while also preventing long-term health complications which can be detected and treated early on.