Health Care: A Universal Problem Without a Universal Solution

A hush fell over the floor as Sen. John McCain stepped to the center of the room and paused. Gasps and scattered applause soon broke the silence when McCain gave the thumbs down, dooming the latest Republican proposal to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act. McCain’s vote, along with those of Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, stopped the initiative to overturn the legislation — one of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises — in its tracks early July 28. But it didn’t stop the debate in the United States over health care. The issue has become such a fixture in U.S. politics over the past few decades that it seems like a distinctly American problem.

But the debate over health care is a global one. Throughout recent history, nations have grappled with the costs and benefits of developing their health care sectors. It stands to reason, after all, that healthy people are more productive people, so better health care should yield a healthier economy. On the other hand, the more money a country spends on the health of its people, the less it has to devote to other budget items such as defense or infrastructure. Each nation approaches the matter with its own set of priorities and constraints in mind. Demographics, economics, history and, of course, politics all help determine the shape of a country’s health care system, from who pays for medical services to what services are available and what training is required to perform them. Though maintaining a robust health care system is a universal problem, it lacks a universal solution.

Reaching the Goal

The United Nations set a goal for its members to achieve universal health care coverage by 2030. As with most priorities articulated through multinational bodies, however, the resolution was light on details. Universal health care, by definition, refers merely to access: Countries agree to ensure that health services are available to all citizens at an affordable rate. The services included, and their financing, are left to the discretion of individual governments.

In much of the developing world, universal health care seems a lofty aspiration, regardless of the details. Governments in populous countries such as Nigeria and Indonesia struggle to guarantee their citizens consistent access to dietary staples, much less to health care services and facilities. What’s more, the operating budgets of these nations often are too tight to prioritize the health care sector, leaving nongovernmental or international aid organizations to fill the gaps. Such groups generally focus on controlling diseases such as Ebola, polio or malaria, rather than on providing preventive care, and patients wind up shouldering most of the financial burden for treatment.

Continued…

From Stratfor: Problems with Universal Health Care

 

This is a great article from the ever predictive Stratfor Group.

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