What Is Universal Health Care? - Definition, Pros and Cons

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  • 0:01 Key Terms and Definitions
  • 2:18 Universal Healthcare - Pros
  • 4:32 Universal Healthcare - Cons
  • 6:34 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Did you know that there are over 45 million people in the United States who do not have health care? Learn more about universal health care, arguments that support universal health care, and arguments against it.

Key Terms and Definitions

Universal health care, also known as universal health coverage, is a specific type of health care where everyone is provided coverage regardless of their income, race, age, pre-existing conditions, gender, or wealth. In other words, as long as you are a legal resident of the region that is being covered, (i.e., the United States), you are eligible for universal health care.

The purpose of universal health care is to provide all citizens with an opportunity to obtain the health care that they may need without having to worry about financial hardship. Currently, the costs associated with privatized health care are really expensive. Private companies are able to set their own costs for insurance premiums, medical tests, and other services in order to make a profit.

A universal health care system would be run by the government. The assumption here is that the government would not be interested in making profits; however, the government would be interested in promoting the best interests of its citizens. Therefore, a universal health care system would likely result in decreased costs for medical care and improved monitoring for health care costs, which would result in more affordable health care.

All forms of universal health care require some type of involvement from the government. For example, there can be government mandates or legislation that affects universal health care. The laws are what determine to whom the universal health care should be provided, the type of coverage that is included, and the type of care that is provided.

Universal health care can be provided in several different ways, including:

  • A single-payer system, or setting up universal health care so that a single organization (most likely the government) would be responsible for collecting health care fees and health care payouts.
  • Using the private sector in order to subsidize health care coverage.
  • Handing out vouchers or giving people refundable tax credits so that they are able to purchase health care in the private sector.
  • Issuing a mandate that requires all people to have some form of health coverage.

It is important to note that universal health care means that all people will be allowed medical treatment. It does not mean that everyone will receive medical treatment. Some individuals may decide not to receive any treatment, or they may not know that treatment is available.

Universal Healthcare - Pros

Those who support universal health care cite the following reasons:

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