Healthcare systems differ based on the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), technological opportunities, level of education for healthcare professionals, etc. The US has a unique system due to the fact that it is a developed country, yet the expenses for health-related services are usually not paid through taxes but copays or premiums. While healthcare is never free, evidence shows that the US system is more expensive and less efficient in certain aspects. Moreover, the inequalities regarding access to healthcare affect specific demographic populations based on their income levels. Individuals who are affected by this issue are usually parts of low-income communities, which illustrates the dilemma between healthcare being a right or a privilege. While the US system is based on the notion of health being a privilege, every person has a fundamental right to receive an adequate solution to health problems.
The Cost of Healthcare in the US
While the US is one of the most financially potent countries in the world, the cost of healthcare is high compared to other developed nations. According to researchers, public spending in health services in 2013 exceeded $4,100 per person, which is almost twice as much as the spending per capita in the UK (Squires & Anderson, 2015). Moreover, it is essential to point out that the US does not have universal healthcare, while all the citizens of the United Kingdom have access to public health services. The statistics illustrate that receiving health-related services and resources in the US is much more expensive than having the same privileges in other developed regions of the world. This creates an environment that perpetuates inequality in terms of people with low-income and access to medical assistance.
Low Income and Inaccessibility
As mentioned before, the US healthcare system is costly, limiting the accessibility and the possibility for people with fewer resources to receive medical assistance. Evidence shows that low-income families and individuals with lower economic potential cannot afford such expensive services. Researchers have conducted an analysis and concluded that there is a considerable income-based disperse in terms of the healthcare quality, cost, and use of emergency medical services (Sommers et al., 2017). The findings suggest that individuals with fewer economic opportunities are less likely to perceive adequate low-cost assistance even in situations where the conditions are life-threatening. The big gap between healthcare accessibility for low-income and high-income families suggests that the US system promotes inequality and class dispersion.
Healthcare in The US vs. Other Countries
While healthcare is significantly more expensive in the US in comparison to other countries, the aspects of quality and efficiency can benefit from improvement. Papanicolas et al. (2018) examined countries such as the UK, Canada, Germany, etc., and found out that the US has the highest rate of obesity and infant mortality while the life expectancy was the lowest. The findings illustrate a contradictory situation due to the high cost but lower quality. Such costly medical services may have been explained with higher-level medical services, yet evidence shows the contrary. The US has gaps within the healthcare system, which is suggested by the fact that people live shorter lives and are prone to health conditions related to increased body weight.
The idea that the US healthcare system is experiencing a crisis is debatable. However, there are significant problems in the domain of cost versus quality. According to researchers, the cost crisis is a systematic issue that negatively affects individuals, businesses, and the US government (Lyford & Lash, 2020). While the US is still relatively efficient in combating such medical problems as cancer, the cost of the medical procedures, prescription medications, and treatments creates adverse outcomes. Furthermore, such issues create an overall medical crisis that impacts the general health of the population.
Healthcare: Right or Privilege?
The current circumstances illustrate a situation where health is a privilege rather than an intrinsic right. It is vital to point out that healthcare equals life for many individuals with chronic conditions or incurable diseases. Since each country has specific responsibilities towards citizens, the essential concern is taking care of the general population’s health. Bloom et al. (2018) refer to healthy populations as foundations for flourishing and stable nations. If the government is preoccupied with creating a beneficial societal environment, granting the right to healthcare is the first aspect to consider.
The US healthcare system does not meet all the international standards when it comes to cost and quality. Moreover, such expensive services make it difficult for low-income people to access the required health assistance. This creates inequality within the system due to the fact that wealthy people are more likely to benefit from medical interventions. While the cost is a detrimental issue, statistics show that the US has a high rate of infant mortality and a lower life expectancy compared to other developed countries. The difficulty of receiving quality care and the notion that health is a privilege have created a crisis within the system, which negatively impacts the general health of the population.
Bloom, D. E., Khoury, A., & Subbaraman, R. (2018). The promise and peril of universal health care. Science, 361(6404). Web.
Lyford, S., & Lash, T. A. (2020). America’s healthcare cost crisis. Generations, 43(1), 7–12.
Papanicolas, I., Woskie, L. R., & Jha, A. K. (2018). Health care spending in the United States and other high-income countries. JAMA, 319(10), 1024. Web.
Sommers, B. D., McMurtry, C. L., Blendon, R. J., Benson, J. M., & Sayde, J. M. (2017). Beyond health insurance: Remaining disparities in US health care in the post-ACA era. The Milbank Quarterly, 95(1), 43–69. Web.
Squires, D. S., & Anderson, C. A. (2015). US health care from a global perspective: Spending, use of services, prices, and health in 13 countries. Commonwealth Fund. Web.