Even in one of the most advanced countries in the world, health care inequality is a major problem. In the United States, the more money you make, the longer you’ll live.
While it may seem like the healthcare gap is only negatively affecting those on a low-income, it’s actually costing all of us a lot more than it should. Here’s why.
All health insurance is not created equal
Historically, America has depended on a health care system run by private insurance. Therefore, those that have access to corporate-sponsored health care plans are able to utilize better health care than those who don’t have these types of plans.
What’s more, 25% of Americans had little to no health insurance before the Affordable Care Act was introduced, and more than 100,000 people died each year because they couldn’t afford health care.
Other Americans found they suffered tremendously from burdensome health care costs, which resulted in lost savings, forfeited homes, and extreme debt. This all negatively affected the nation’s economy, as half of all bankruptcies were caused by outrageous medical costs.
Emergency room visits for non-emergency issues
When people can’t afford basic health care or preventative care, they likely end up in the emergency room. This is very costly for hospitals, as emergency room visits are a lot more expensive for conditions such as a diabetic coma than the cost to prevent the symptoms of diabetes in the first place.
However, the hospitals aren’t the ones footing the bill. At the end of the day, you’re paying for these emergency visits.
Because hospitals are required to treat anyone who steps into the emergency room, uninsured patients cost hospitals $10 billion each year. But really, those expenses are passed along to Medicaid and then added to your tax bill. Ouch.
Cutting the price tag on health
While healthcare inequality is monetarily taxing to every American, there are solutions to this costly problem. And yes, one of these solutions is universal health care.
While this solution may seem extreme to some, universal health care is actually very advantageous. Overall, health care costs for the economy would be lower; the government would control the price of medication and medical services; administrative costs from private health insurers would be eliminated; emergency room expenses would decline due to adequate and available preventative care; and doctors and hospitals would have to provide the same standard of service, at a lower cost without favoring those on a higher income.
While it may seem like America has a long way to go before adopting universal health care, it is the solution we need to lower health care costs and health care inequality across the nation.