According to the World Health Organization, universal health care is a healthcare system that allows the citizen of a particular country to access medical services without bearing the burden that comes with the service. Furthermore, it defines the Universal health coverage as means where the public can access the promotive, preventive, rehabilitative, and curative health service sufficiently and efficiently while ensuring that they are not exposed to financial hardship. Universal health care does not provide an umbrella coverage for the people but provides a specified package for the members of the public. There are three critical dimensions of universal health care. The first one is "What are the services offered by the package?", the second dimension is "What is the cost of the package?" and the third dimension is "Who is covered?".
Several countries provide free healthcare services to its population, but that does not mean it is providing universal health care coverage. The United Nations is advocating for a universal healthcare system for all of its members by 2030. Several European countries, particularly members of the EU, have embraced the system. However, the United States, which is the world’s largest economy, is yet to adopt the universal healthcare system. Republicans had vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) but the party is divided among some who want the whole program to be scrapped, and the moderates who think scrapping the whole program without a better alternative would leave 24 million Americans without health insurance.
Countries with Universal Health Care
Belgium has one the best healthcare systems in the world. The system, developed in 1945, is sponsored by competing mutuals by state-run hospitals and non-profit making hospitals. Each mutual is funded by the government depending on the membership. Members are issued health cards which are swiped at the hospital and between 50%-75% of the total cost is then reimbursed by the mutual scheme.
Germany's healthcare system dates back to the 1880s and is the oldest in Europe. Citizens contribute about 13% of gross earnings to any of the 300 statutory state sickness funds. The funds operate differently; others reimburse patients for costs incurred while others negotiate up to 75% reduction of costs during the treatment. The unemployed are funded through the social fund or Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse which is a last resort fund covering about 13% of the population.
In 2016, Argentina embraced the universal healthcare system when the ministry of health issued Decree No. 908 with the aim of improving primary healthcare services. The main targets of the system were the 15 million people who were not covered by any medical insurance scheme. The government issues cards bearing the medical background of the patient and the type of treatment plan they should receive.
The Benefits of the Universal Health Care Coverage.
The main advantage of universal healthcare is that more people can access better health care, which leads to a healthier nation and reduced number of health-related deaths. There is also reduced bankruptcy which results from medical costs. The system also promotes equality as anyone who subscribes to the medical plan receives the same treatment.