by Shaw Campbell, Caitlin Edwards, and Connor Hudson-Bryant

The ability to own land, to have a say in government, and to be free are all rights that most Americans would say are vital to our existence as a nation. Freedoms like these are what make our country great. But, shouldn’t Americans also have the freedom to be healthy? With the healthcare system the U.S. has had in place, the excesses of the capitalist market have compromised that freedom.

As it stands now, the United States does not provide universal health coverage for its citizens that is paid through federal taxes. U.S. citizens still have to pay at least some amount out of pocket in order to have health care. This cost stems from private businesses controlling most of the health care system in America, and has resulted in many Americans opting out of purchasing health insurance, or not receiving the care that they need.

In the past year, Americans have gone without necessary care because of the high price of healthcare. In addition, many Americans do not participate in yearly physicals and other preventative treatments because of their lack of coverage. Because citizens are forced to pay out-of-pocket expenses, they are less inclined to purchase any preventative medical care at all. This ultimately creates a country with less healthy people, who have less coverage.

In contrast, other developed nations use taxes to completely pay for their country’s universal health care. Using this taxation method, more citizens in these countries can afford, and even use, that care. For example, in the United Kingdom, less than 5% of the population went one year without medical care, compared to America’s 37%. In addition, Australia (with a mostly government funded healthcare system) had 114,000 fewer deaths related to causes that could have been prevented by timely and effective health care than the U.S. To say that nationalized healthcare compromises the quality of care is clearly not backed by facts.

The Affordable Care Act, more affectionately known as Obamacare, aims to create a country where every citizen can access healthcare without fear of negative financial repercussions. When a patient is suffering from a life-threatening illness, the additional concern of money should not be added to their already onerous burdens.

The Affordable Care Act is flawed, however, because the insurance provided does not cover every source of cost. Positive effects have been seen since its introduction in 2011, including over 20 million citizens receiving free preventive services and decreased consumer costs of prescription drugs. These improvements clearly represent a movement in the right direction; however, they are far from a solution to our enormously inadequate and inefficient healthcare system.

A major concern expressed by opponents of nationalized healthcare is the cost, fearing that they will end up paying for those who will in turn receive free healthcare. The exponential cost is not a factor of nationalized healthcare, as represented by the fact the the U.S. currently spends $8,745 per capita on healthcare, while the U.K., a country with a highly nationalized system, spends a fraction of that cost at $3,289 per capita. Nationalized healthcare can provide quality care at a reasonable cost.

The U.S. should take a look at these other countries’ health care systems, and take a page out of their book. Our nation would highly benefit from the government taking full control of our healthcare system, and administering the cost through taxation, not through personal payments.

The Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction, but only a small one in what should be considered to be a much longer road. In order for America’s health care system to be truly effective, the government will have to change their policy on private businesses in medical aid, and move towards less dependence on these businesses. If the United States wants its citizens to feel safe and healthy, the federal government will have to step in and introduce more serious reforms to solve the problems.

This editorial, written by Shaw Campbell, Caitlin Edwards, and Connor Hudson-Bryant, is the basis for a documentary project conducted within the Contemporary Questions course, an honors class for first-year students. On Monday, November 23, the Contemporary Questions class will be presenting all of their documentary films at 6:00p.m., in Canterbury Hall.