According to a 2009 Harvard study, the lack of health insurance can cause up to 44,789 deaths every year. Moreover, 58% of Americans either delay or do not seek medical treatment due to its cost. Healthcare in the United States is viewed as a privilege, not as a right. Many argue that this view is outdated and that healthcare should be free to all US citizens, as it is in many developed European countries. One estimate states that 95% of American families would save money if universal healthcare was implemented in the United States. Because it would make healthcare accessible to families in all financial situations and would improve economic productivity, healthcare should be free in the United States.
Free healthcare in the United States would ensure access to medical treatment for people in all financial situations. A proponent for universal healthcare, Bernie Sanders stresses the importance of equal access to medical treatment for all: “We need a system that works not just for millionaires and billionaires, but for all of us. Americans should not have to fear losing their health insurance if they lose their job or change employment.” Our current healthcare system makes obtaining medical treatment difficult for those who struggle financially. Since healthcare is not provided by the government, people are forced to pay for any treatment they seek. In addition, as stated by a study in Health Affairs, the cost of health insurance in the United States had increased by 80% between 2003 and 2013. According to Medicare and Medicaid Services, in 2012, “the average American spent $9,596 on healthcare.” Due to the growing expenses of healthcare, financially challenged families may not be able to afford treatment for medical conditions out of their control. If healthcare were free in the United States, people of any financial status would be able to have access to healthcare.
Additionally, free healthcare in the United States would result in increased economic productivity in general. If everyone has access to healthcare, overall public health will improve, causing people to miss work less. Recent studies show that workers miss 4.7 fewer days if they are health insured. Also, if healthcare is more accessible, the demand for doctors will increase. Therefore, free healthcare would create jobs, boosting the economy. With free healthcare will come a healthier workforce and an increase in jobs, both of which will increase economic productivity.
However, some oppose free healthcare in the United States because it would raise taxes. In European countries that have free healthcare, the cost is covered by the people paying higher taxes. The average payroll tax in the United Kingdom and other European countries averages 37%, which is drastically higher than the United States’s 15.3%. Despite this argument, higher taxes would ensure that everyone has access to healthcare. The countries that pay higher taxes for free healthcare generally have better healthcare systems. According to the Commonwealth Fund, the United States was ranked last in overall healthcare behind the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, France, and Canada. Although some oppose universal healthcare because of high taxes, many European countries with universal healthcare have overall better healthcare systems than the United States does.
Because it would contribute to equal access to medical treatment for all and increase economic productivity, the United States should have universal healthcare. All families, no matter their financial status, should have access to medical treatment. Free healthcare would boost economic productivity by causing people to miss work less and creating jobs. Although some people oppose universal healthcare due to the increase in taxes, the United States’s healthcare is falling behind many other countries that have universal healthcare. An increase in taxes may be necessary to get the healthcare in the United States on par with the many European countries that already have universal healthcare. If implemented, universal healthcare will bring increased productivity and public welfare for generations to come.