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Debate: Single-payer universal health care

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Background and Context of Debate:

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Yes

  • Coverage should be provided to all citizens regardless of ability to pay.
  • The current US system is already funded 64% by tax money with the remaining 36% split between private and employer spending. A universal healthcare system would merely replace private/employer spending with tax revenues. Total spending would go down for individuals and employers.
  • A single payer system could save $286 billion a year in overhead and paperwork.[46] Administrative costs in the US health care system are estimated to be substantially higher than in other countries and than in the public sector in the US: one estimate put the total administrative costs at 24 percent of US health care spending.[47]
  • For profit healthcare has been shown to have higher expenses and worse results.[48][49]
  • Several studies have shown a majority of taxpayers and citizens across the political divide prefer a universal healthcare system over our current system[50][51][52]
  • Health care is increasingly unaffordable for businesses and individuals.[53]
  • Universal health care would provide for uninsured adults who may forgo treatment needed for chronic health conditions.[54]
  • Providing access to medical treatment to those who cannot afford it reduces the severity of epidemics by reducing the number of disease carriers.
  • Wastefulness and inefficiency in the delivery of health care would be reduced.[citation needed]
  • America spends a far higher percentage of GDP on health care than any other country, and has worse ratings on a variety of subjects such as quality of care, efficiency of care, access to care, safe care, equity, right care and wait times according to the commonwealth fund. New Zealand, which spends one third per capita what the US spends on health care beats the US on every marker of efficiency and care. Although not definitive, this does lend credence to the idea that universal health care is more efficient than our for profit health care system as the US was inferior to Germany, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and to a lesser degree Canada in nearly all health care quality issues. This despite the fact that the US system costs 2-3x more per capita than the systems in these other countries.[55]
  • A universal system would align incentives for investment in long term health-care productivity, preventive care, and better management of chronic conditions.[56]
  • By reducing paperwork a universal system would allow doctors to spend more time with patients, thereby increasing physician productivity.[57]
  • Patients would be encouraged to seek preventive care enabling problems to be detected and treated earlier.[53]
  • A centralized national database would make diagnosis and treatment easier for doctors.[53]
  • Universal health care could act as a subsidy to business, at no cost thereto. (Indeed, the Big Three of U.S. car manufacturers cite health-care provision as a reason for their ongoing financial travails. The cost of health insurance to U.S. car manufacturers adds between USD 900 and USD 1,400 to each car made in the U.S.A.)[58]
  • Managed care networks, with their extensive provisions and guidelines, reduce doctor flexibility and limit patient choice.
  • The profit motive adversely affects the cost and quality of health care. If managed care programs and their concomitant provider networks are abolished, then doctors would no longer guaranteed patients solely on the basis of their membership in a provider group and regardless of the quality of care they provide. Theoretically, quality of care would increase as true competition for patients is restored.
  • The profit motive adversely affects the motives of healthcare. Because an applicant with a pre-existing condition (possibly from birth) would require more care, they are often blackballed from being able to obtain health insurance at a reasonable cost. Health insurance companies have greater profits if fewer medical procedures are actually performed, so agents are pressured to deny necessary and sometimes life-saving procedures to help the bottom line.
  • According to an estimate by Dr. Marcia Angell roughly 50% of healthcare dollars are spent on healthcare, the rest go to various middlemen and intermediates to providing healthcare. A streamlined, non-profit, universal system would increase the efficiency with which money spent on healthcare goes to healthcare.

No

  • Health care is not a right.[61][62][63]
  • Providing health care is not the responsibility of government.[64]
  • Universal heath care would result in increased wait times, which could result in unnecessary deaths.[61][65]
  • Poorer quality of care.[61][53]
  • Unequal access and health disparities still exist in universal health care systems.[61]
  • Universal health care plans will reduce efficiency because of more bureaucratic oversight and more paperwork, which could lead to fewer doctor-patient visits.[66] Advocates of this argument claim that the performance of administrative duties by doctors results from medical centralization and over-regulation, and may reduce charitable provision of medical services by doctors.[67]
  • Profit motives, competition, and individual ingenuity lead to greater cost control and effectiveness.[53]
  • Uninsured citizens can sometimes still receive emergency care from alternative sources such as nonprofits and government-run hospitals.[53]
  • Government-mandated procedures would reduce doctor flexibility.[53]
  • Healthy people who take care of themselves should not have to pay for the burden of those who smoke, are obese, etc. [53]
  • Loss of private practice options and possible reduced pay would dissuade many would-be doctors from pursuing the profession.[53]
  • Likely loss of insurance industry jobs and business closure in the private sector.[53]
  • Universal health care would eliminate the right to privacy between doctors and patients.[68]
  • Empirical evidence on single payer-insurance programs demonstrates that the cost exceeds the expectations of advocates.[69]
  • Universal health care systems, in an effort to control costs by gaining or enforcing monopsony power, sometimes outlaw medical care paid for by private, individual funds.

Economics: Is health care beneficial to an economy?

Yes

Ensuring the health of all citizens benefits a nation economically

No

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Yes

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No

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