The economic benefits of universal health care coverage impact a country’s economic prospects in several aspects.
Universal healthcare improves health outcomes by ensuring that everyone has continuous access to care regardless of pre-existing conditions, ability to pay, or any other factors. This continuity is particularly important for the management of chronic conditions.
Universal health care is the action that a government takes to provide health care to as many people as possible at cheaper or more affordable. Some governments do this by setting minimum standards and regulations and some by implementing programs that cover the entire population.
Introduction to the economic benefits of the universal health care system
There are many economic benefits of the health care system, however; the cardinal aim of a universal health care system remains to cover medical bills for the citizens.
Although, lower-income or those diagnosed with specific serious health conditions would have access to government-funded care. Essentially, it would be an expansion of the current Medicaid system with a few additional caveats.
Universal health care is a system that provides quality medical services to all citizens. The federal government offers it to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.
Universal health care allows everybody the opportunity to access a full range of health services including promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.
These services should be of good quality. Because the emphasis here is on everybody getting the treatment they need, the objective includes an important equity dimension.
From a reliable source, evidence suggests that the implementation of a universal health care system benefits a country’s economy.
Is no doubt that the progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) involves complicated challenges, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that moving toward UHC is a political process that involves negotiation between different interest groups in society over the allocation of health benefits and who should bear the costs.
A study, carried out by the consultancy firm KPMG, looks at the effects of UHC on the economy of South Africa. The results show the economic benefits of introducing UHC in 2011 have so far outweighed the costs associated with introducing the system and funding it with increased taxes.
In this vein, for the past few decades, civil society organizations (CSOs) have frequently played a crucial role in representing the views of the poor and the vulnerable in these negotiations, pushing for a more equitable distribution of both the responsibility for funding the system and the benefits received.
CSOs have been working vehemently in remodeling the health systems at the national level, increasing grass root’ involvement in the decision-making process, and in creating accountability mechanisms.
Also, CSOs have achieved most when they have been able to develop robust positions based on solid arguments and compelling examples.
Economic benefits of universal health care
Below are some of the economic benefits of a universal health care system
- Creation of productive and healthier workforce
- Lower mortality rates
- Promotes health care equality and rights
- A right to health care could stop medical bankruptcies
- Lowers overall health care costs
- Standardizes service
- Early childhood care prevents future social costs
- Providing a right to health care could benefit private businesses.
Creation of productive and healthier workforce
A healthier workforce is productive and raises healthy families; thus, healthy workers are a key strategy, for a better health system.
This contributes to sustainable development, which is the key to poverty reduction and is fundamental to public health, for it is increasingly clear that major diseases (e.g. AIDS, heart disease) need a healthier and more productive workforce to control the diseases.
Studies show that preventive care reduces the need for expensive emergency room usage.
Without access to preventive care, 46% of emergency room patients went because they had no other place to go.
They used the emergency room as their primary care physician. This health care inequality is a big reason for the rising cost of medical care.
This, in turn, is one of the economic benefits of universal health care
Lower mortality rates
Lower mortality rates are also one of the economic benefits of universal health care. Its effects could be either directly or indirectly.
Low mortality also has important implications for the process of economic growth.
Recently there has been an increase in the number of research studies that examine how reduced mortality affected economic decisions.
Another study focuses on two of these decisions, namely fertility and human capital investment, given the importance of these for economic growth and given the fact that the most significant component of mortality decline has been a reduction in infant and child deaths.
Increased life expectancy implies a higher rate of return on human capital investment and hence, declining child and youth mortality provide an important incentive to increase investment in the education of each child.
Researchers have emphasized the role of human capital investment as the prime engine for economic growth.
Promotes health care equality and rights
A promoted health care equality and rights benefits cannot be over-emphasized.
“The right to the highest attainable standard of health” implies a clear set of legal obligations on states to ensure appropriate conditions for the enjoyment of health for all people without discrimination.
The right to health is one of a set of internationally agreed human rights standards and is inseparable or ‘indivisible’ from these other rights.
This means achieving the right to health is both central to, and dependent upon, the realization of other human rights, to food, housing, work, education, information, and participation.
A right to health care could stop medical bankruptcies
According to the National Bankruptcy Forum, medical debt is the #1 reason people file for bankruptcy in the United States.
Medicare-for-All would end medical bankruptcy. People would no longer have to pay outrageous amounts or go into debt in order to receive treatment.
In 2017, about 33% of all Americans with medical bills reported that they “were unable to pay for basic necessities like food, heat, or housing.”
If all US citizens were provided health care under a single-payer system medical bankruptcy would no longer exist, because the government, not private citizens, would pay all medical bills.
Lowers overall health care costs
Lower health care cost is of economic benefits because many people both inside and outside the sphere of health policy take it for granted that cutting health care costs is an admirable even necessary pursuit.
Nearly everyone has gone on record in support of health care cost containment. The burgeoning managed care sector is based on the premise that a large part of managing care is managing its costs.
Improvements in health status may have a positive economic impact on households through increased productivity, and reduced absenteeism. Although there have been numerous debates on the economic benefits of universal health care on the ground that it lowers the overall health care cost.
A standard health service is of economic importance because health is an important determinant of economic development; a healthy population means higher productivity.
In a competitive nation like the United States, health care providers must also focus on profit. They do this by offering the newest technology.
They offer expensive services and pay doctors more. They try to compete by targeting the wealthy people thereby neglecting the poor.
A study suggests that a standardized health service facilitates healthy labor, their incentive to develop new knowledge is higher because they expect to benefit in the long run.
Early childhood care, prevents future social cost and equally improve economic growth.
This is because high-quality early childhood programs can increase the number of skilled workers in the future, which then magnetizes investments and jobs in the local economy, increasing local earnings, and such can be considered one of the economic benefits of universal health care.
Providing a right to health care could benefit private businesses.
Providing the right to health care is one of the economic benefits of universal health care because the private sector is the engine of the growth of any economy.
Private businesses drive economic growth, create jobs, and pay the taxes that finance the services and investments of the nation.
Is no doubt that in developing countries, is the private sector that creates 90 percent of jobs, funds 60 percent of all investments, and generates more than 80 percent of the revenues of the government.