Problems With Universal Health Care


Universal health care is a system by which everyone in a state or nation is required to have health insurance. This is achieved through various programs. Most commonly, universal health care is provided through a single-payer government program that covers all of the citizens of a state or nation. Such is the setup in Canada, the United Kingdom and France. Opponents to universal health care cite such issues as disparity between coverage and actual medical care as problems.

Coverage vs. Care

The disparity between health insurance coverage and actual medical care is a problem with universal health care systems. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times by public policy scholars Michael Tanner and Michael Cannon, a number of nations with universal health care systems provide citizens with coverage but deny them access to health care. The article asserts that in 2006 in Great Britain, an average of 900,000 citizens were on waiting lists for hospital admission each day. According to Tanner and Cannon, 50,000 surgical procedures were canceled in the United Kingdom in 2006 on account of resource shortages, and the wait for heart surgery in Sweden, another nation with universal health care, can be as long as 25 weeks.


General surgeon John S. O’Shea asserts that high public expense is a major problem of universal health care systems. Writing in online magazine My Family Doctor, O’Shea, who also holds a Master in Public Administration, states that publicly funded universal health care programs are cost inefficient. According to O’Shea, the high cost of these programs saps public funds from other necessary government expenditures like defense (military) and education, and even government-funded medical research. O’Shea states that the private sector is more well equipped to deal with these expenses through nonuniversal health care.

Administrative Problems

Analyst Onkar Ghate of the Ayn Rand Institute cites an oppressive administrative climate as one of the problems of a government-controlled universal health care system. Writing in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Ghate states that “a massive net of regulations” would ensnare doctors, nurses, hospitals and drug companies under a universal health care system. Increased government regulations and constant pressure from regulators would, in Ghate’s view, increase doctor and nurse frustration levels and lead to a decrease in care quality. Furthermore, the amount of time spent at administrative tasks by doctors and nurses would take away from the amount of time these professionals would have to see to patient needs.

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