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Health care should be free for all in United States [column] | Local Voices

Health care should be free for all in United States [column] | Local Voices

America’s health care system is set up differently than those of other countries.

One main difference is that America does not have free health care for its citizens. But the question of whether this system should be challenged has been up for debate recently.

Based on three things — the statistics surrounding America’s performance compared to other countries that do supply free health care; the impact of health insurance agencies on care provided; and the seeming greed of those health insurance agencies — I believe that health care should be free and accessible for all American citizens.

Forcing citizens to find a way to provide their own health care is unfair because of the different accessibility to resources based on household income.

The Commonwealth Fund — a private foundation that aims to promote “a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable” — highlights the effects of the lack of equitable access to quality health care.

A 2021 Commonwealth Fund report states, “Compared to other countries, the U.S. performs poorly on maternal mortality, infant mortality, life expectancy at age 60, and deaths that were potentially preventable with timely access to effective health care.”

The report highlights the negative impacts of the current health care system by revealing preventable high mortality rates that can be attributed to ineffective or insufficient health care.

The lack of accessible health care essentially narrows down the value of human life to the amount of money paid to health insurance agencies. This ensures that not every citizen is equally protected and that some may die unnecessarily — simply because their household income was not sufficient to provide quality medical care.

The lack of affordable health care also decreases the quality of medical outcomes. The Commonwealth Fund touches on this aspect of American health care, as compared to countries where health care is free: “(The United States’) performance falls well below the average of the other countries and far below the two countries ranked directly above it, Switzerland and Canada.”

The consequences of not having free health care set us apart, and not in a positive way.

So, if private health care isn’t benefiting the citizens, who is it benefiting? Studies have shown that the insurance agencies and third-party providers are the main — if not sole — beneficiaries of this health care system.

Neeraj Sood of the University of Southern California researched who exactly benefits from the system. His recent column in The Economist states, “Critics argue that large (pharmacy benefit managers) do not pass on the discounts to the health plans, instead keeping much of the difference for themselves, and limit access to treatments that are less profitable for them.”

This research reveals how some providers within the health care system benefit from cutting what they spend, so that they can boost profits.

This approach makes some agencies more likely not to fund needed medical procedures, medication, etc., so that they can pocket some extra money. This results in the health care system relying on business factors and profit when the focus should be on helping patients and providing care for those in need.

Between the greed of insurance agencies and the clear separation between the quality of America’s health care compared to that of other countries with free health care, it is only hurting the citizens of America to continue down this path of a complicated, ineffective system.

Maggie Poole is in the 11th grade at Solanco High School.