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Health care policy relates to Health care budgets which often accounts for one of the largest areas of spending for both governments and individuals all over the world, and as such it is surrounded by controversy. For example, it is now clear that medical debt is now a leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States.[1] Though there are many topics involved in health care politics, most can be categorized as either philosophical or economic. Philosophical debates center around questions about individual rights and government authority while economic topics include how to maximize the quality of health care and minimize costs.

Background Edit

The modern concept of health care involves access to medical professionals from various fields as well as medical technologies such as medication and surgical techniques. One way that a person gains access to these goods and services is by paying for them. Many governments around the world have established universal health care, which attempts to provide the same level of access to every person in a country. Many citizens are against universal health care for a variety of reasons.

Philosophy Edit

Further information: Philosophy of Healthcare

Right to Health Care Edit

The United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) asserts that medical care is a right of all people. Many religions also impose an obligation on their followers to care for those in less favourable circumstances, including the sick. Humanists too would assert the same obligation and the right has been enshrined in many other ways too.[2][3]

An opposing school of thought rejects this notion.[4] They (laissez-faire capitalists for example) assert that providing health care funded by taxes is immoral because it is a form of legalized robbery, denying the right to dispose of one's own income at one's own will. They assert that doctors should not be servants of their patients but rather they should be regarded as traders, like everyone else in a free society."[5]


Policy is developed at various level depending on the sophistication and geographical characterisitcs of the states and health system involved.:

Mental health care policyEdit

International health care policyEdit


National policyEdit

Regional policyEdit

Local policyEdit

Government Regulation Edit

A furtherquestion concerns the effect government involvement would have. One concern is that the right to privacy between doctors and patients could be eroded if governments demand power to oversee health of citizens.[6]

Another concern is that governments use legislation to control personal freedoms. For example, some Canadian provinces have outlawed private medical insurance from competing with the national social insurance systems for basic health care to ensure fair allocation of national resources irrespective of personal wealth. Laissez-faire supporters argue that this blocks a fundamental freedom to use one's own purchasing power at will. [7]

Controlling the Industry Edit

When a government controls the health care industry, it defines what health care is available, and how it is paid for, privately or with taxes. Public regulation, investor owned HMOs and medical insurance companies (which are not under the democratic control of health care users) may all determine what health care a person might get.

Universal health care requires government involvement and oversight.

Economics Edit

The neutrality of this section is disputed.

Impact on quality of health care Edit

One question that is often brought up is whether publicly-funded health care provides better or worse quality health care than market driven medicine. There are many arguments on both sides of the issue.

Arguments which see publicly-funded health care as improving the quality of health care:

  • For those people who would otherwise go without care, any quality care is an improvement.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
  • Since people perceive universal health care as free, they are more likely to seek preventative care which makes them better off in the long run.[8]
  • A study of hospitals in Canada found that death rates are lower in private not-for-profit hospitals than in private for-profit hospitals.[9]

Arguments which see publicly-funded health care as worsening the quality of health care:

  • It slows down innovation and inhibits new technologies from being developed and utilized. This simply means that medical technologies are less likely to be researched and manufactured, and technologies that are available are less likely to be used.[10]
  • Free health care can lead to overuse of medical services, and hence raise overall cost.[11][12]
  • Publicly-funded medicine leads to greater inefficiencies and inequalities. [4][13][14]
  • It is alleged that uninsured citizens can simply pay for their health care. Even indigent citizens can still receive emergency care from alternative sources such as non-profit organizations.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Some providers may be required to provide some emergency services regardless of insured status or ability to pay, as with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act in the United States.

Impact on medical professionals Edit

Proponents of universal health care contend that universal health care reduces the amount of paperwork that medical professionals have to deal with, allowing them to concentrate on treating patients.

Impact on Medical Research Edit

Those in favor of universal health care posit that removing profit as a motive will increase the rate of medical innovation.[15] Those opposed argue that it will do the opposite, for the same reason.[14]

Economic Impact Edit

Universal health care affects economies differently than private health care.

Those in favor of universal health care contend that it reduces wastefulness in the delivery of health care by removing the middle man, the insurance companies, and thus reducing the amount of bureaucracy.[16]

Those opposed to universal health care argue that socialized medicine suffers from the same financial problems as any other government planned economy. They argue that it requires governments to greatly increase taxes as costs rise year over year. Their claim is that universal health care essentially tries to do the economically impossible.[17] Opponents of universal health care argue that government agencies are less efficient due to bureaucracy.[13] However, supporters note that modern industrial countries with socialized medicine tend to spend much less on health care than similar countries lacking such systems. [How to reference and link to summary or text]

In the United States, opponents of universal health care also claim that, before heavy regulation of the health care and insurance industries, doctor visits to the elderly, and free care or low cost care to impoverished patients were common, and that governments effectively regulated this form of charity out of existence.[18] They suggest that universal health care plans will add more inefficiency to the medical system through additional bureaucratic oversight and paperwork, which will lead to fewer doctor patient visits.[19].

Means Edit

Many forms of universal health care have been proposed. These include mandatory health insurance requirements, complete capitalization of health care, and single payer systems among others.[20]

HyperboleEdit

Hyperbole has become a dominant feature of health care politics in the United States. Some examples are these.


See alsoEdit


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