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The Health of the nation

The President Elect wants to dismantle Obamacare, except the good bits! Well the fact is we do not need Obamacare, we do not need health insurance, we just need Healthcare, universal healthcare , yes for everyone.

Yes, we could have healthcare for all, yes everybody. The Federal government would not need to spend any more and each family would save an average of $8000 per year!!

Now surely that sounds like a good idea to both the Democrats, Republicans and independents or are you still worried about “socialized medicine”?

Well, Americans think healthcare is the number one priority for new president (Source Reuters/Ipsos poll) but doesn’t reveal what Americans want changed about the country’s complex healthcare system.

Here's how you can have it all…..

Having had personal experience of both USA and UK healthcare systems, I would say the standard of care is very similar, doctors, nurses and healthcare staff are the same the world over: hardworking, dedicated and committed to patient care.

A closer look at the facts indicates that indeed universal healthcare free at the point of access is not only affordable but also practical. Though even Bernie thought a single payer system might increase taxes but in fact that is not necessary. But wait, universal healthcare could be available at no extra cost and save the average household $8000 per year (125million households).

You see, the Federal government is already spending enough per head on healthcare that in most European countries provides a free at-point- of-access universal healthcare system.

Overall, the USA spends nearly three times as much on healthcare per capita: $8508 per year compared to the UK at $3166, (Source: OECD). A large amount of this goes on insurance and administration rather then healthcare provision. This does not appear to make Americans healthier or live longer. Americans have a life expectancy of 79.8 years and the Brits of 81 years (Source: WHO). Another indicator could be under 5 child mortality rate which is 7 deaths per 1000 live births in USA, the UK is 5 per 1000 (still too high, Japan is 3 per 1000).

The Federal government budget for healthcare in 2015 was $1.4 trillion that amounts to $4430 for each person (source: The budget in the UK is £133 billion in 2015 (Source: ONS) so that’s £2078 or approximately $3166 per head (at exchange rate at the time), everyone gets free access to health service or rather it comes out of the taxes, no insurance, no paperwork, no hassle.

Note: I am not holding the UK system to be perfect, it is just they I only have expereince of the USA and the UK and are therefore qualified to compare them!

So surprise, surprise, the Federal government is currently already spending (on Medicare and Medicaid) 40% more than the UK per head on healthcare and yet still according to the United States Census Bureau, in 2012 there were 48 million people in the US (15.4% of the population) who were without health insurance.

While people in the UK would readily acknowledge the National Health Service could benefit from more resources, if it spent the same per head as the US federal government currently spends now, then it would have 40% uplift.

So on a like for like basis the USA could have a full free universal health service for what is currently spent by the Federal government. This could be phased in state by state. The transition will take time, and cause some upheaval, for instance thousands of staff in the health insurance business will no longer be required, though some will be needed to manage healthcare budgets and resources. Clearly there will be pushback from the health insurance companies who will need to reinvent themselves and from the pharmaceutical companies who will see their margins drop and from media companies who relay heavily on healthcare and medication advertising to consumers. But a good government has to be bold and do the right thing that is best for its people, all its people, not just the privileged few.

Once the transition is completed, everyone will have access to healthcare at no more cost to tax payer and saving the average household an estimated $8000 per year (based on personal costs, employer costs and amount paid in taxes). Based on the median household income of $51,939 that’s a very significant 15% more spending power.

So a completely reformed universal healthcare system not based on personal health insurance would make a significant contribution to the reduction of economic inequality, boost consumer demand and kick start economic growth as well as making life better and healthier for millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet.

The real issue is that anyone in countries with universal healthcare like Canada, UK and most European countries can walk into a doctors or a hospital and get seen, or referred to a specialist at absolutely no direct cost. Rich or poor, you’re covered.

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