Current State of the U.S. Healthcare System

Current State of the U.S. Healthcare System

A common position in the fight for universal health care is to claim that the American health care system, in its current state, is a failure. Notably, while the United States spends more on health care than any other developed nation, the country's infant mortality rate and life expectancies for women and men are comparable to every other developed nation. Currently, approximately 16 percent of the American population (about 44 million people) does not have any health insurance.

Many people, however, believe that the modern medical industry is successful, and that success is based on competition and consumer choice. Making health care universal, they argue, would threaten this democratic, capitalist sensibility. Furthermore, critics of universal health insurance cite slippery slope argument: Were medicine and medical care to be suddenly universally accessible, people would then request the same kind of universal access to food, shelter or higher education, destroying both the American work ethic and the capitalist system that has been the country's foundation since its establishment.

Currently, nearly thirty countries have successful single-payer universal health care systems, while one (Germany) has a multiple-payer universal care similar to the system proposed by Former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1993. In February 2009, only weeks into his administration, President Obama took the first steps towards implementing a universal health care system in the United States. His proposal, packaged as an economic stimulus, would establish a program for those under 65 years of age not covered by employer health care plans or not eligible for existing government programs. This bill was modified and overhauled on several occasions, and was not passed until March, 2010, and it will not go into effect until 2014. Opposition to the bill has strengthened after its passage, so it is likely that signficant changes will be made before it goes into effect. The plan would create a National Health Insurance Exchange, an organization run by the government that would sell health care plans to individuals without health care.

Opponents to the plan are widespread, and most would prefer a free market-based plan, as opposed to the President's government-based plan. Others point out that the plan would be too costly for employers, or would increase the federal deficit too much.

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