Universal Health Coverage

Provision of universal health coverage has been debated in the Senate and the House of Representatives of the US Congress, and it seems that some Republicans oppose the bill on this major public health policy. According to Curry (2009), 46 million Americans do not have health insurance, and this group comprises 15% of the total American population. Isn’t this figure significant, which clearly speaks out about the poverty of some unfortunate Americans, who can not afford to pay for their health insurance in the richest country of the world?

However, due to the persistent efforts of President Barack Obama, who kept his promise that he had made to the American citizens during his election campaign, the reforms bill was introduced by the Democrats in the US Congress. When a patient without health insurance does not visit a doctor for a minor illness, then the minor illness, eventually, worsens into a chronic illness, or a life-threatening disease. It is only then that the patient seeks the emergency health care services.

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This practice puts a burden on the emergency healthcare system, and increases the expenditure on curing the patient. The necessity for overhauling the American healthcare system was also realized when patients, doctors and reports suggested that the contemporary healthcare services were inefficient, costly and inaccessible to the American citizens. Hence, the healthcare reforms bill was introduced in the Congress, and this paper highlights the work of the Congressional committee as well as developments in the passage of the bill in the US Congress.

Discussion Fraser (2006) reported that Citizens’ Healthcare Working Group, comprising fifteen members from business, consumers, healthcare service providers, disabled and organized labor communities, was constituted by the US Congress in the year 2003. The objective of forming the focus group was to analyze the responses of the people about their requirements of universal health coverage.

It was found that most of the American citizens wanted protection from exorbitant medical costs, and guaranteed coverage for diagnosis and treatment. According to Curry (2009), the draft bill proposed by the Senate Health Committee mandatorily requires all legal residents of the USA to possess health insurance, else they would have to pay penalty, with the exception of those legal residents whose annual income is less than $16,250.

The bill also proposes to provide health insurance coverage to those who can not afford it, which would be facilitated through taxpayer-provided subsidies. Curry (2009) further summarized the claims of Kaiser Commission, which mentioned that 33% of the uninsured Americans are in the age group of 19 to 29 years, while 42% of the uninsured Americans are in the age group of 30 to 54 years.

Since this age group is normally healthier than the elderly population, who use maximum healthcare services, the overall expenditure for providing universal health coverage for all Americans would be mitigated. Regarding the medical expenses on the elderly, it was stressed that the elderly are covered by Medicare. It was also reiterated that the Senate Health Committee had proposed for more than $700 billion as the anticipated cost for providing health coverage to low-income groups for the next ten years.

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