This paper is an exploration of some possible answers to this confounding question, including some misconceptions and interesting opinions. As such, it will not explore health care as a right or pros and cons of universal health care. Rather, its scope is limited to expressing reasons given by a few people for not supporting universal health care in the United States of America
Why do Some American Citizens not support Universal Health Care?
The universal health care debate in America is not a new one. The discussion has already lasted more than 100 years and shows no signs of coming to an end. This is despite the fact that, for more than a century, other democratic countries have had universal health care systems in place. As an American living in the Netherlands I have been asked more than once why all Americans are not in favor of universal health care. As an American also does not understand this viewpoint, I find this a hard question to answer. Additionally, as a nurse and public health specialist, I have a special interest in this topic.
I feel it necessary to state my bias and purpose upfront and clearly express that this article is not scientific. It is an exploration of some possible answers to this confounding question, including some misconceptions and interesting opinions. This paper will not explore health care as a right or pros and cons of universal health care. The scope of this article is limited to expressing reasons given by a few people for not supporting universal health care in the United States of America.
The question of universal health care is clearly much more complex than can be answered with a simple, “yes, we provide it” or “no, we don’t”. The variations are endless. There is a history behind this debate. There are philosophical, moral, ethical, and personal issues that need to be explored and considered. There are many perspectives from which to see this complex subject as well, due to the various stakeholders involved in health care delivery. This paper explores concerns from the perspective of a patient regarding their support of universal health care.
Here are a few of the reasons that American citizens have expressed to me for why they do not support universal health care:
Government is ineffective and inefficient
This reason was given by more than one respondent. There are regular problems with government-run programs in America, such as Veterans Affairs (VA), social security, and Medicaid/Medicare. It was expressed that there is too much overhead without oversight in current government programs. There is a fear that, even if these systems are funded, there is no guarantee that it is sustainable. One respondent specifically did not like the idea of contributing to a universal healthcare fund, when there was no guarantee that as she aged that fund would still be around to take care of her when she needs it most. There is a common misconception that there are only two options: government provided health care or privatized health care. Furthermore, it was expressed that people value things less when they do not have to pay for them. The assumption is that government provided health care is free to the patient. Americans are often unaware of a third option available in many other countries; government subsidized private health care.
Don’t like being told what to do
Another reason given for not supporting universal health care is the idea that something is mandatory. When I pointed out that car insurance is also mandatory, the respondent argued that she could choose not to drive. Americans often reference their individual rights and seem to resent being told that they must do something. In addition, the individualistic culture leads people to feel that they are not sick, why should they care if someone else is? The strange thing is that other services are forced on Americans such as schooling, but the same resentment does not seem to apply.
It was expressed that if everyone were to have access to health care, then the already overburdened system will collapse. Worries included increased wait times due to increased patient load and the ability to receive appropriate, quality, timely care and treatment. One possible solution to this problem is to educate and create more healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, that also includes a financial investment from an industry that is already having to make austere decisions and take cost-cutting measures. Rising costs were also a major concern for all parties. However, that is a subject about which entire books are written, and, thus, will not be addressed in this brief opinion editorial.
What I am able to conclude from my brief research, if it can be called that, is that this topic is as extensive as it is complicated. The intricacies and considerations involved health care services are limitless. The scope of a discussion is very hard to limit because each topic is closely linked to multiple other issues. Each question leads to another question, rather than an answer. That is why it is easy to put on the back burner. I think the true answer to why universal health care is not an idea supported by all Americans is because there is not enough comprehendible information available. There are nuances and details that confuse even those who are knowledgeable and informed. In order to persuade everyone to support universal health care, clear and concise messages about the program need to be developed based on addressing public concerns.
*Corie Leifer was born in 1981 in Connecticut, USA. After earning a bachelor degree in communications and another in nursing in the United States, she moved to the Netherlands in 2011 to earn a Master of Health Science degree with a focus on International Public Health from Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. During this study, Corie completed her internship at AFEW and subsequently joined AFEW as Office Manager. As a research intern, she investigated the use of SMS campaigns to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. Corie has international marketing and communications experience, having worked at Operation Smile, Inc. and Trader Publishing Company prior to returning to school. Corie is also a Registered Nurse licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, USA. Since April 2016 Corie serves as Project and Department Assistant at Phillips-Medisize.