The US needs a single payer universal healthcare system


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Former president Barack Obama signs the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010. This law expanded healthcare to over 25 million more people but failed to provide universal coverage.

In the United States today, over 25 million people lack health insurance. On top of that, many people who have insurance find it to be inadequate leaving them still struggling to access healthcare.

These two realities of the current American healthcare system led to an insane amount of suffering. Tens of thousands of Americans die every year due to a lack of health insurance. Medical expenses are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States. This reality doesn’t have to be. Universal single payer healthcare will eliminate the harms suffered courtesy of the current healthcare system.

Universal healthcare is the trend in the developed world. Almost all developed nations have a universal healthcare system. Canada, the UK, France and Japan all guarantee healthcare to their population. The US is the outlier and the healthcare statistics show the disadvantage. The US has lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality than the nations previously listed. 

The idea that one would have to risk financial ruin just for medical care is an insanity to the people in other developed countries. Politicians in those nations almost entirely agree that universal healthcare is the best path. Once a nation has universal healthcare and feels the benefit, they almost never want to go back.

Some opponents claim the US is different from other nations and that universal health care won’t work here. However, the idea of a universal healthcare system is not a foreign or unfamiliar idea to the US. The first president to propose a universal healthcare system was Teddy Roosevelt over a century ago. Since then, numerous presidents have supported universal healthcare including Harry Truman, John F Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter.

In the 1960s, the US passed two public healthcare programs known as Medicare and Medicaid. Today, over 140 million people are covered under the two programs.

If we look at the time period when these programs were created, those on the right used the same tactics to attack it. They called it ¨socialist¨ and considered it to be beyond the role of the government. Those conservatives have been flat out wrong so modern conservatives sing a different tune. But even still, their attacks today on universal healthcare stem from the same reason they attacked Medicare and Medicaid; they don’t want the government to do much of anything to improve the quality of life for all Americans.

Another fact to consider is that the progressive plan to achieve universal single payer healthcare is to simply expand Medicare to all citizens and improve its quality of care. The plan is to take a program that has very successfully provided care to tens of millions of Americans and expand it to cover all of America.

Quality healthcare is something that every American should be able to receive, regardless of their economic status. They should not have to face financial ruin to get this care. The path to achieve this reality is a single payer healthcare system that guarantees health insurance for all.