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Posted at Dec 9, 2014 by Rachael Vernon

Dentists Supporting Universal Health Care

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A patient walked into a dental practice on October 21st, 2014 after getting her front tooth knocked out in a softball game. She was in pain and had a large gap at the forefront of her smile, but she was underinsured under Medicaid, and did not have enough money to pay for a dental implant. The dentist felt terrible for the woman, but he could not simply give her the $1800 in dental work for free. According to the National Academy for State Health Policy’s study, “The Effects of Medicaid Reimbursement Rates on Access to Dental Care, if a dentist decides to give care to a federally insured patient, they will be repaid between 30-50 cents for every dollar of work that they spend on their patient (National Academy for State Health Policy 3). This is the problem with our current medical system. Doctors are not able to give complete access to care for all of the 75 million underinsured Americans without a universal health care system because they would lose 50-70 cents for each dollar that they spend on them. The government needs to develop a system that will benefit both sides of this issue: the health care providers and the citizens of the United States. A universal health care system is a program that would provide medical care to all legal residents of the United States while still providing fair reimbursement to their health care providers.

We need a universal health care system for two main reasons: 1) the current United States medical system is unnecessarily expensive and 2) our primarily private system is inefficient leaving 75 million Americans under and uninsured (Churchill 2). Larry Churchill, a Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilit University Medical Center, argues that the United States has the best medical, science, and research facilities; however, at any given time, we still have more than 75 million people who are under or uninsured (Churchill 2). The OECD Health Database, the database that offers comparable statistics of developed countries, depicts that The United States spends more on health care through its private programs than any other nation, yet in many instances has no better outcomes in terms of quality of care (1-2). The current United States medical system makes it extremely difficult for people who are low-income, have pre-existing medical conditions, or work for a company that does not offer medical benefits to find health care coverage. i. Jennifer Ryan, a senior research associate for the National Health Policy Forum, urges that more than six in ten uninsured adults under the age of 65 are working, either full-or part time. One-third of them however are from low-income families making less than $20,000 per year (National Health Policy Forum 3).

A universal health care system will to satisfy two of the main needs of the United States: 1) it will lower the cost of health care and make health care accessible to each citizen and then 2) it will ultimately increase the quality of life and of our fellow United States citizens. Lora Cicconi and Kerri Strug, professors at Stanford University, explain that the adoption of a universal health plan would lead to medical coverage by public health insurance for all Americans, regardless of gender, income, age, or employment status. This insurance would provide all citizens with basic short term and long term medical services.
The federally funded system would be fully regulated by the government and would set standard fees for all hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers. Payment of services would be financed solely through public funds generated through tax revenues. Medicaid and Medicare would both be abolished for the new program, but private insurance would still be available when individuals wished to buy insurance beyond the scope of the publicly available program (Cicconi and Strug). In 2004, the government only funded 45% of these costs. Under a universal health care system that number would increase drastically. Implementing a universal health care program in the United States would provide regulated healthcare benefits to all citizens of a country with the end goals of increasing access to health services, providing financial risk protection, and improving the standardized quality of health care.

I urge you all to support a universal health care system that would be federally mandated and modeled after similar successful programs such as the system that is thriving in our neighbor country, Canada. According to a study in the OECD Health Database, Canada, a country that provides a universal right to health care, spends half as much per capita on health care as the United States. The United States could implement a program very similar to Canada’s and spend much less on health care than they currently do if we utilized a universal health care system. One of the main concerns about the implementation of this public coverage program is the possibility of increased taxes. According to Paul Gregory, a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, financing a universal right to health care in the United States could cause payroll taxes to double. Although personal taxes may increase at the implementation of this program, the amount of our taxes going towards health care should decrease after the universal health care system has been implemented and the overall health of the country has improved.
Both Canada and the United States currently spend roughly the same proportion of their budget on healthcare, but Canada is able to provide healthcare services to a much larger proportion of their population. (Armstrong 294).

I am urging you to support the implementation of a universal health care program in the United States to help combat the medical crisis we are in and increase our access to health care. A universal health care program is the best solution to this crisis because it will standardize the quality of health care in the United States while lowering medical costs and providing medical services to all legal residents. Consider how your support for a universal health care program would positively impact the lives of: the young woman who had a missing front tooth but could not afford to relieve her pain or a get a dental implant, the single mom struggling to provide the necessary medical care for herself and her three children who suffer from cystic fibrosis, the doctors who have the genuine desire to provide health care for the underinsured but can’t afford to do so and the hundreds of millions of United States citizens that are in similar situations.

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