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Universal Health Care

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Universal health care is a system that provides quality medical services to all citizens. The federal government offers it to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

Despite some similarities, Obamacare is not universal health care. Some Americans advocate for a type of universal health care sometimes called “Medicare for all.” It became popular with progressive Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections.

The sheer cost of providing quality health care makes universal health care a large expense for governments. Most universal health care is funded by general income taxes or payroll taxes. Some countries mandate that everyone buy health insurance. While Obamacare had a mandate, it had too many exceptions to be truly universal. A few countries rely on pre-payment. Most universal health care systems are funded by more than one of these funding methods.

In most countries, the government pays for health care provided by private companies. These include the systems in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Singapore, and Switzerland. U.S. examples are Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE. The United States also provides subsidies to health insurance companies through Obamacare. 

When the government both pays for and provides the services, that is socialized medicine. The United Kingdom has this. The United States has it with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the armed forces.

Countries often combine universal health coverage with other systems to introduce competition. These include pay as you go, prepay, and private insurance models. These options can lower costs, expand choice, or improve care.

When governments pay for health care, they work to ensure doctors and hospitals provide quality care at a reasonable cost.

They must collect and analyze data. They can also use their purchasing power to influence health care providers.

The demand for universal health care began in 1948, the year the World Health Organization declared health care a basic human right.

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