Universal Healthcare: Is it Feasible?


Michael Toscano

Mr. Dahlem, a health teacher at Bronx Science, is an advocate for universal healthcare.

How often do you worry about your healthcare? Probably not often. As a young adult, it is a topic which you may not have given much thought to, or even fully understand. It’s something that your parents provide for you, and a burden that you don’t have to worry about yet. For insured Americans, receiving quality healthcare is simple, but for 44 million Americans today, quality healthcare is a privilege which they are unable to afford.

It is unbelievable to think that in 2019, over 44 million Americans live without health insurance. That makes up roughly 8% of the United States population, who are unable to afford the care they need. Routine visits to the doctor for vaccinations or check ups that most of us take for granted are simply out of reach for these Americans. When emergencies arise, these people have two choices: either pay an insurmountable hospital bill, or receive no medical care at all. Without insurance, healthcare can seem like an overwhelming expense.

Lack of affordable healthcare is a serious issue facing the United States today. People across the country without access to it are dying at elevated rates. According to a study by the Harvard Gazette, over 45,000 Americans died from a lack of healthcare in 2018. The lives of these individuals were prematurely ended because they were unable to afford the care they needed.

Mr. Dahlem, the resident health teacher at Bronx Science, had this to say about the statistic: “It’s definitely a health disparity, and a major issue facing America today.” These deaths are unacceptable, and could have been easily prevented with the implementation of a strong Universal healthcare plan. Mr. Dahlem agreed, saying, “we would definitely benefit from a universal healthcare system in this country.” With a Universal healthcare plan, these Americans would have received the healthcare they deserved, and might even be alive today.

Universal healthcare, also known as Medicare-for-all, refers to a system that provides high-quality healthcare to the whole population of a particular country, rather than just those who are able to afford it. Currently in the United States most Americans are insured by private insurers who provide quality healthcare for a steep price, while the less fortunate have to rely on public healthcare plans such as Medicaid.

The issue that arises is that the quality of care received from private plans is superior to that of public plans, leading to unequal levels of care. A universal healthcare system would solve these issues, by creating an equal playing field for all Americans. Mr. Dahelm said, “I think that a universal healthcare system would benefit us, primarily by lowering healthcare costs for the entire country. Also, people would be getting the same standard of care, regardless of income status.”Cost is the major argument used by politicians against the proposal of universal healthcare in America, and for good reason.

A universal healthcare plan would cost the country a substantial amount of money. It is projected that a universal heathcare plan in America would cost upwards of, “32 trillion dollars to implement over a ten year period,” according to data from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. To put this number into perspective, this sum is greater than the entire national debt of the United States which currently stands at 22.03 trillion dollars.

The concern that most middle-class Americans have with the proposal of a universal healthcare plan is that in order to fund it, the government will have to raise their taxes. Mr. Dahlem disagrees with this notion, stating “People say that the cons are that it forces people who are healthy to pay for the less fortunate, but I don’t see it that way, as it has worked well for many other first world countries…the benefits definitely outway the cons in my opinion.”

I agree with Mr. Dahlem, because even if taxes do increase initially, I believe the price will be worth the outcome of a strong universal healthcare plan in America. To help counterbalance these costs, there are many innovative solutions which could be implemented, such as the “wealth tax” proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.

According to Warren, this would impose a “2% tax on every dollar of net worth for households worth $50 million or more, and a 3% tax on every dollar of net worth beyond $1 billion,” helping to offset the initial cost of the plan. The way I see it, if we begin to build this foundation now, in ten years time, we could have a healthcare system in place to serve all Americans equally, regardless of socioeconomic status. As income inequality and class inequality continue to grow in America, implementing a universal healthcare plan will begin to move us in the right direction.

Best stated in the words of the wise Mr. Dahlem, “Everyone wants to live a long healthy life, and good health insurance is very important to achieve that.’” Nobody should be denied the care they need due to financial limitations. Everyone deserves the right to be healthy.

“Everyone wants to live a long healthy life, and good health insurance is very important to achieve that,” said Mr. Dahlem.