Capstone Project: Varying Differences of Universal Health Care

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¶ … Universal Health Care

This project explores several published articles that report on results from research conducted on Online (Internet) and Offline (non-internet) on the benefits of Americans receiving/participating in Universal Health Care (UHC). The articles, however, vary in their definition in implementing UHC. The Democratic government suggests that UHC is more effective than Private Insurance Carriers (PIC), and advocate the use of supplementary coverage for the millions of previously and otherwise rejected un-insurable Americans. Other articles define UHC differently and therefore, offer different results?

This project examines UHC research in relation to several other research articles to suggest that all areas of UHC should be studied in order to fully understand how UHC will influence (impact) and better the lives of all Americans, regardless of their economic ability to pay. Based on a synthesis of a meta-analysis of representative arguments and a review of the literature, the study provides a summary of the research, important findings and recommendations in the concluding chapter.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

Statement of the Problem

Purpose of Study

Importance of Study

Scope of Study

Rationale of Study

Overview of Study

Chapter 2: Review of Related Literature

Chapter 3: Methodology

Description of the Study Approach

Data-gathering Method and Database of Study

Chapter 4: Data Analysis

Chapter 5: Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

Varying Differences of Universal Health Care

Chapter 1: Introduction

Statement of the Problem

The debate over the respective roles and rights of the states and the federal government have always been a characteristic of American politics, and the controversy has become particularly pronounced recently as the drive towards universal health care has nearly reached the level of being the law of the land. While it is reasonable to suggest that most compassionate Americans feel that no one should be denied basic life-saving health care services based on their inability to pay for them, there remains a dearth of viable approaches from policymakers that can pay for these services. Moreover, the problems associated with providing the expanded coverage offered by universal health care plans are much more complicated than that, of course, and current trends suggest that although the Health Care Reform Act has passed congressional muster, it faces a groundswell of opposition based on its constitutionality.

Yet another problem facing proponents of a universal health care plan for the United States is the issue of whether there is a mandate for the provision of universal health care at the federal or state level, or a mandate at all for that matter. Indeed, some observers suggest that health care is an individual responsibility and to the extent that government contributes to the process is the extent to which it is being benevolent rather than fulfilling a responsibility. There are some longstanding precedents regarding the participation of the local, state and federal governments in contributing to health care services for Americans. For example, Champlin and Knoedler (2008) emphasize that, "Nearly a century ago, the American Association for Labor Legislation (AALL) began a campaign for universal health insurance based on the notion that health care is the joint responsibility of employers, workers, and the state" (p. 913). In reality, many aspects of the existing American health care system reflect this type of shared health care responsibility, with the costs of health insurance currently be underwritten by all three sectors of the U.S. economy: (a) households; (b) employers; and (c) government; although the underwriting is shared, the actual responsibility for the subsidization is not shared equitably. According to Champlin and Knoelder, "The steady retreat of private firms and government from assuming a substantial share of the burden of health care costs is based on an underlying presumption that health care is entirely an individual's responsibility, while the contributions of government and the private sector are basically optional -- a matter of benevolence rather than responsibility" (p. 913).

Therefore, because the provision of health care is not addressed in the U.S. Constitution, the determination of responsibility remains a matter of state- and federal-level interpretation and funding on a strictly voluntary basis based on the prevailing political views of the era. Past trends suggest that governments at all levels will remain active in some fashion in underwriting the health care needs of their citizens, but the current debate over the Health Care Reform Act and the need for universal health care must address this fundamental issue of responsibility. In this regard, Champlin and Knoelder conclude that, "The likely outcome of the current complicated debates over health care reform will depend on this issue of responsibility. Who should pay for health care? Is it a collective responsibility or an individual one?" (p. 914). These and related issues remain the focus on the current effort to legislate universal health care in the United States, and a growing number of critics suggest that the whole package in unconstitutional in the way in requires citizens to purchase health insurance coverage or face financial penalties. In other words, this means that some Americans who are already unable to afford health care insurance would be placed at a further disadvantage by being forced to pay a penalty for being too poor in the first place. In this environment, identifying the important differences in universal health care approaches to determine what works and what does not -- and why -- has assumed new relevance and represents a timely and valuable contribution to this ongoing debate.

Purpose of Study

Because the stakes involved are high and the rhetoric surrounding the debate has been emotionally charged in recent years, it is important to sort out the facts from the hyperbole. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to provide a review of the relevant juried, scholarly and governmental literature concerning universal health care to identify best practices where they exist and determine common factors involved in successful approaches.

Importance of Study

As noted above, the stakes involved in the provision of universal health care are high across the board. In terms of the human impact, the costs of failing to provide adequate health care coverage for the uninsured as incalculable but from a strictly pragmatic perspective, the economic consequences are well established. For example, in 2007, the United States spent approximately $2.2 trillion on health care or about $7,421 per person (Health care, 2010). This level of spending is almost double what other developed nations around the world currently spend on their health care needs, and Americans spend more on their health care needs than they do on housing or food. In fact, if current projections of health care costs are accurate, the Congressional Budget Office indicates that by 2025, fully 25% of the national economy will be allocated to the health care system. This increased demand on the national budget will have to be offset by cuts in other social programs and investments in infrastructure that are desperately needed across the country (Health care, 2010). As the White House press release concerning the recent efforts to pass the Health Care Reform Act emphasizes, "Rising health care costs also affect our economic competitiveness in the global economy, as American companies compete against companies in other countries that have dramatically lower health care costs" (Health care, 2010, para. 2).

Scope of Study

The scope of the study extended to a review of historic state- and federal-level initiatives designed to provide increased access to health care for the uninsured in general and the provision of universal health care in particular in the United States.

Rationale of Study

Given the enormous amount of money currently being spent on health care in the United States, together with projections of even more money being required in the future, it just makes good business sense to identify what works best and to do more of that. Unfortunately, there are few success stories to draw upon in the analysis of how best to provide universal health care but it is vitally important to determine what approaches have proven more effective than others in the past in order to avoid false starts and missteps while maximizing the return on any additional investments in these initiatives.

Overview of Study

This study used a five-chapter format to achieve the above-stated research purpose. Chapter one of the study was used to introduce the topics under consideration, provide a statement of the problem, as well as the purpose, importance, scope and rationale of the study. Chapter two was used to deliver a review of the relevant peer-reviewed, scholarly, popular and governmental literature concerning universal health care and what approaches have been shown to be effective in the past, as well as what the critics have to say about current efforts to provide universal health care in the United States. A description of the study's methodology in chapter three is followed by an analysis of state-level approaches to universal health care compared to the current efforts to provide UHC at the national level in the data analysis chapter. A summary of the research, relevant conclusions and recommendations are provided… [END OF PREVIEW]

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