The issue of universal health care looms over the heads of millions of Americans who either have current problems, remember past health care nightmares or simply are looking to the future. There are many pros and cons to universal health care in America, but three of the largest issues involve medical-related bankruptcy, preventive treatment, and the variety and quantity of providers available to consumers.
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According to Julia Schenkler from Minnesota Public Radio, 120,000 Americans filed for medical-related bankruptcy in 2009. Programs and institutions in the United States, such as the Medical Billing Advocates of America, will help people with overwhelming medical bills, but clearly, people are still going under. Countries such as England and Germany and Switzerland have zero cases of medical bankruptcies, because every citizen is covered, and medical expenses come from taxes, not out of pocket. If a universal health care system existed in the United States, medical-related bankruptcies would become a thing of the past.
In a system of private medical insurance, in which each claim is scrutinised and where millions of people cannot simply go to the doctor without heavy financial repercussions, millions of Americans simply avoid going to the doctor. People with ailing backs or aching stomachs simply ignore the pains and practice the system of "It will go away if I just let it be." And because people ignore warning signs, they end up in surgery and suffer even larger medical bills, or if they can't pay, other Americans foot the bills.
Americans who have basic medical insurance often are not covered for vision or dental care. They may ignore problems with their eyes or teeth until the problems grow larger and larger. Universal health care would allow people to pay attention to warning signs and take care of minor issues before those minor issues blow up into major catastrophes.
Freedom of Choice
Though many Americans want a better health care system, they are afraid of what universal health care might mean to their freedoms. In the anthology "Opposing Viewpoints: Medicine," Adam Summers, a policy analyst with the Reason Foundation, argues that health care consumers need to be aware of their rights, because they are the ones paying the bills. Summers argues that people are afraid of losing the ability to choose a provider; that if the U.S. government steps in, there will be only one oppressive health care provider. Summers, like many Americans, believes that universal health care equals more government interference in the average American's day-to-day life.
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