Would Universal Healthcare Really Work in the U.S.?
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Would Universal Healthcare Really Work in the U.S.?


– It’s 3 a.m. and you’re wide awake, your stomach is on fire. It is literally the worst
pain that you’ve ever felt, I’m talking more painful than if Iggy Azalea and Kanye
West made a duet album, because it’s that painful, you
head to the emergency room, the diagnosis, appendicitis. Doctors wheel you into the operating room, do their thing, and eventually,
you leave the hospital, alive, minus your appendix. Modern medicine folks. Very impressive. But that’s not the end of your journey. The average cost of the
surgery you just had is around $15,000. Now if you happen to have
good health insurance that’ll probably pay for most of it. But if you have bad
insurance or no insurance, you’re on the hook for paying most of it, or all of it yourself, not
a fun position to be in. Here in the US, we do healthcare differently than just about every other greatest country on the planet, those countries have
universal health care, where the government
guarantees that everyone has access to doctors,
hospitals, and medicine without having to worry about
paying thousands of dollars and potentially going broke. And that leads me to the question I’m digging into for this episode. Should the US offer universal health care? In the good old US of A, how you want to pay for health
care is entirely up to you as long as you have the money for it. Do you smell that? That’s freedom folks. Most people choose to buy health insurance and if you’re low income or over 65, you can get it from the government. But pretty much everyone else
has to buy it from companies. It kind of works like car insurance. You pay a set amount of money every month, and in return the insurance
company pays for most of your medical bills if
you get sick or hurt. You’re insuring yourself
against the big time costs. That’s basically what
insurance is in a nut shell. You can also choose not
to buy health insurance and just pay doctors
and hospitals directly. If you’re young and healthy and never have to go to the doctor or a hospital, you’re going to save
money, but you’re at risk for paying a lot of money if
you do have a medical emergency like a car wreck, or
you fall off your bike and break your arm. So it is a gamble. In the US around 91% of people have some form of health insurance, while the remaining 9% has no insurance. That’s over 27 million people. For those that have insurance, the most common way to get
it is through their job. The individual pays for
part of the insurance and the employer pays the other part. It works great for a lot of people but it does have a big drawback. If you lose your job,
you lose your insurance. In countries with universal health care they don’t have this problem. Insurance isn’t tied to your
job so you can’t lose it. In fact, many people
keep the same insurance for their entire life. Now you’ve probably heard
of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. In 2010, President Obama
signed it into law. It required everyone
to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, and
it helped lower income Americans pay for it. The main goal was to increase the number of people with insurance, but it was not universal health care. Obamacare was really controversial. It was the biggest change to
healthcare in over 50 years. Some people saved money
with it and loved it other people had to pay more and hated it. It was a whole thing. And when Trump became president he removed the penalty
for not having insurance, that means today we remain
in the healthcare system where you can choose to buy
insurance or go without. Now, there are a bunch of different ways to get universal health care, and every country does it
a little bit differently. In the United Kingdom,
they have what people call socialized medicine, the
government owns the hospitals, and the doctors and nurses
are government employees. For most medical services you
don’t pay anything directly, you go to the hospital,
get treated and leave. There’s no bill you have to pay, and you’re not paying for
health insurance every month. Imagine. In Canada, they have
a single payer system, doctors and hospitals
are private businesses, but private insurance is rare. Instead, the government
provides health insurance for everyone, and they
are the single payer that then pays the
hospitals and the doctors every time you have an appointment. In Switzerland, people buy
private insurance companies but it’s heavily regulated
by the government, which requires everyone
to have health insurance and even pays for part of it
if you don’t have enough money. It’s kind of like a more
intense version of Obamacare. Now, this may all sound great, but before you grab your protest sign and start picketing the streets for the US to get universal health
care, remember this, it has to be paid for somehow, and the way most other countries
do it is through taxes. Check out this chart. People in countries with
universal health care are paying more taxes
than we do here in the US. That means the government is taking even more money out of your paycheck and changing the entire healthcare system goes beyond how we pay for things, it’ll affect how we access
doctors and medications, and it might affect the
quality of care we get. Okay, so how does the US compare to all these other countries? To answer that, we talked to T.R. Reid, he’s a journalist and author who wrote The Healing of America, which looks at how healthcare
works around the world. – We pay more for health
care than any other country by a huge amount, we pay about twice as much as people in France,
Germany, Britain, Sweden, Italy, Spain, pay, even though they cover everybody and have better
overall health statistics. – Check out these numbers. Healthcare spending per person in the US is around $10,000 per year. All the other countries
with universal health care are spending around $5,000 per year. We’re paying for the cost
of two universal health care systems without getting
universal health care. A big reason for this is that
our system isn’t one system. It’s a bunch of difference systems. There are hundreds of
health insurance companies and they all do billing differently. It’s just a bunch of paperwork. These companies also spend
millions on advertising and salaries for high paid executives, the result is that almost
everything costs more in the US. Remember that appendix you
got removed for $15,000? In the UK, it’s under $10,000. An MRI is almost $1200 in the US, but under 600 in Switzerland,
and the list goes on. – If we covered everybody
with a sensible single system with the same rules, and
the same fees for everybody, we would cut our costs
by billions of dollars, it’s just much cheaper to
run a coordinated system that covers everybody. – Basically, the simpler
the healthcare system, more money you as a patient save, and that’s what universal
healthcare gives you. The US also has another unique problem, almost 9% of our population
has no insurance at all. That’s 27 million people. For most of them, it’s
not that they’re choosing not to buy it, it’s that
they can’t afford it, and their job doesn’t offer it as benefit. – In the United States,
according to the US government, 22,000 Americans, 22,000 die every year of treatable diseases,
because they couldn’t afford to go to the doctor. That is we could have treated that person and saved their life, but she died because she didn’t have health insurance. – And when people do
pay, they often struggle to come up with the money. In the US, two out of
every three bankruptcies are tied to medical issues,
that just doesn’t happen in countries universal health care, but the cost of healthcare
isn’t everything. We want it to be high
quality, and that costs money. In the US, we spend billions of dollars every year on cutting edge
research and drug development, those companies are
competing with each other to make a profit, that spurs innovation. Switching to universal
healthcare could change that. You might be able to cover more people, but they may not have access
to the best treatments. To discuss these trade offs,
we talked to Chris Pope who researches healthcare policy
at the Manhattan Institute, which is a conservative think tank. – I think universal
health care is basically the idea that everyone has some sort of health insurance coverage. Now, what does your
insurance cover is an issue that can vary enormously. Coverage can provide great
access to care everywhere, or it can provide access to
very limited package benefits with very high out of pocket costs. – Remember, 90% of Americans
already have health insurance. Completely changing the
entire healthcare system will be disruptive. People who have private
insurance and like it might be forced to give it up. On top of that, universal
health care means the government has a much
bigger role in deciding who and what gets covered. Some care might be rationed
which means the government decides who gets what and when. – And a typical thing that gets rationed would be knee surgery or hip surgery, if you need this kind of joint
surgery in these countries you might be waiting for months or the best part of the
year to get access to care. Also the most expensive drugs. There are a lot of new cancer drugs that available in the United States. In Britain and Canada these aren’t going to be available necessarily
to much of the population. – Instead of bringing the
government in to healthcare, why not take employers out of it? Remember, most Americans get
insurance through their jobs, but it doesn’t have to be that way. – I think it’s a big
opportunity for change and improvement in American healthcare is really to let individuals
buy health insurance on the same terms that
their employers can. If it was an individual that
controlled the insurance, it would be your insurance,
you would own it, and you will have a right to renew it as you move from job to job. – Oh, hey there. Thanks for making it to
the end of the video. We know that that was a lot of information that we threw at you. So just to make sure that
we’re all on the same page, I thought it’d be cool if
we did a quick little recap, just to make sure that we all understand universal health care. So, the pros for it, are that everyone would have access to
it, it wouldn’t be tied directly to your job
and going to the doctor or to the hospital will
cost a lot less money. Now the arguments against it are that your taxes may
have to go up to pay for it, the quality of care may not be the same, and with more government control, the individual has less choice. So, do you think that America should keep doing health care the same way? Should we switch to a
universal health care system, or should we do something
different entirely? Now this is a big issue on the
elections because you know, eventually everybody’s gonna
have to go to the doctor. And as always, leave us a comment below. Oh, I forgot. If you liked this video,
check out our other video with universal in the title, all about universal basic income. When you watch it it’ll
all make sense, I promise, they connect, I swear they do. I’m your host, Myles Best. Till next time, peace out.

45 Comments

  • Dan Riddick

    This video doesn't touch at all how the US healthcare system is broken. Sure, it would be great if we had a universal healthcare system like other nations, but with our current 'broken' healthcare system, while it's easy to use "what ifs" and wishful thinking based on other nations, but in the end, our system is fundamentally different.
    I don't think the question should be "would universal healthcare really work in the US?", because I would go out on a limb and simply say "no". Rather, I would argue that we should be asking how we can 'fix' our current system so that it can better support universal healthcare – and that's assuming that universal healthcare is our overall end-goal.

  • Adrian

    Good video, but I'll go ahead and critique the cons of universal healthcare.

    Taxes would likely increase:
    – This is a manufactured issue in terms of framing the costs and payments towards a universal healthcare system. It's just as easy for me to adapt this narrative and say americans already pay an "individual tax", that is to say we already pay a certain amount of money (out of our checks or each month) to an institution to ensure we are covered for health insurance. Continuing this narrative, instead of paying money towards a private institution the money would then be paid towards an institution that has your interests at heart (ideally).

    Quality of care might change:
    – Yes, but that is reductionist in terms of the variations in quality care under the current system. As was already said numerous times throughout the video is that there are millions of Americans without care! So a change from no insurance to having insurance is a increase in quality. Moreover, you have to consider what types of insurance are available and to who. The quality of care is related to the insurance– if you can afford better insurance, you can have more quality healthcare. Although, there are a lot of loopholes in which insurance companies can say you don't qualify because of preconditions (which won't necessarily happen under a universal system). Let alone the fact that the United states has some of the worst statistics in quality of healthcare such as mortality rates for giving birth.

    Less choice for the individual:
    – Again, this touches upon the issue being that healthcare coverage is widely variable across the country. There's not much of a choice when your insurance is tied to your work, whether you can afford insurance or not (as well as different types), or even if your insurance will pay for the care that you need.

  • Kos Tas

    am I missing something but why is nobody talking about that in all the countries with universal health care there is private insurance and private hospitals for that better quality and shorter waiting time. you can have your uhc + private insurance if you want. you can go to private hospital for a fraction of a price compared to usa. you can get luxury suite if you want. it will be expensive but compared to usa it's pennies

  • Ardechir Pakfar

    BS, the think tank guy is lying! The universal healthcare covers all and do never refuse to reimburse you… You want to be impartial and let him talk? Ok but check if he's lying or not!

  • Bitsmap

    Here in Brazil we have a very good system, but it's very bad administrated and very bad invested. But it's all people like me have, me and my family can't pay for private healthcare, and it is saving our lives.

  • Kamila Vargas

    This is a really complicated issue and I think that there is no perfect solution. If America did switch to universal healthcare, I think that there would have to be a lot of incentive to increase the quality because the wages of healthcare providers will be an issue. I know the current system is already flawed, so I think that getting universal healthcare is a good idea if some of the issues are thought about and can be resolved

  • Justin Lelbach

    There's a lot to cover here so they won't be able to cover everything, give em a break people. They did a lot of work and a really great job given the amount of time they have. Great job above the noise workers! And your host is really great, everything he says just seems so relaxed and natural, like he's just having a real conversation with us. Congrats

  • -

    You could pay for universal healthcare and free (or subsidized) education if you paid even slightly less on the military. ¬_¬

    The cons don't matter if you can't get any coverage. Any healthcare is better than none.

  • Alex Yeoh

    There is an assumption that in the US the free market causes the companies to develop more drugs. Now, that may have been true in the past, but recently there has been a glut of pharmaceutical companies chasing a massive margin of profit and instead of investing in r&d they have decided to just purchase other companies that have and skyrocketed drug prices in the us. A simple case is insulin which even across the border has a massive price difference.

  • JucheGang

    Yes, without a doubt. But we'd have to stop spending 700 billion on killing brown children which neither party seems to want to stop anytime soon🤷‍♂️

  • Kenneth Correa

    Yes it is worth it because if you would ask any one from countries with socialized medicine to move and adopt the US model they would laugh at your face. It may be a simple explanation but it is very telling. Also to rebut the less freedom of choice argument, if the doctor you want to go to is not in network for your insurance then you can’t go to them. In socialized systems you can go to any doctor you want because they are all in network. Now that is true freedom of choice.

  • Eric Hula

    This was a very bad faith argument with slippery slope scare tactics. There are NO copays, NO deductibles and you never even mentioned that. You didn't mention that insurance companies don't let you choose what treatments you can have. They are already rationing out healthcare so they can make more profit. #DoBetter

  • DuBstepAnDa98

    I'm liking these recent videos before the election. It'll be my first time voting this election so these videos help me understand what the major problems are in the U.S and understanding what each candidate running for President will do about it.

    Anyways I think Universal Healthcare would be the way to go. Yeah it would be more expensive, but atleast everyone will have coverage and can go get treatment. That treatment could be for big illnesses spotted in it's earlier stages. And for people wanting higher quality of care, they can get private insurance instead. I'm kinda ignorant to this topic so maybe there's some information I should know about that I'm missing with my thoughts.

  • Above The Noise

    Let us know how you feel about having universal healthcare in the good ol' USA. Would it be an unrealistic pipe dream, the only decent option, a foolhardy venture, or something else?

  • Carl Vanderlip

    Drug development is heavily subsidized by the government already…

    Really disappointed by this video (and honestly the last couple), unsubscribing.

  • SaucerJess

    In 2015, I had a brain aneurysm rupture at the old age of 27. I was in perfect health (just ran a marathon). The total amount billed was over $7.2M. I'm lucky I had really good health insurance from my work. Medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcy here in the US. Please vote 💚

  • Evil Otto

    -Universal Healthcare will happen and it will be M4A.
    -And as a flat tax it will affect those with less to a greater degree, leaving them with even less to live on.
    -Yay.

  • Joe Williams

    The rationing boogey man… Yikes my dude.

    Letting "the individual control their insurance.? Yeah, let's lose the weight of corporations bargaining over costs so now I get to fight w/ an insurance company directly, mano y giant conglomerate. 🤣

  • Michael Toner

    I absolutely hate the idea of individuals buying health insurance instead of employers. it will only make less people buy insurance. forcing us all to be in charge of our health. It will be like the addition of 401Ks into american life. bad

  • Zhu Bajie

    Conservatives are not having a good faith argument because they profit from the system which does not add market value. Having 50 insurance plans just cost more money not improve health.

  • Mark Hancock

    One of the biggest challenges to change is the affect on the US medical industry & jobs.
    Right now the industry earns $$$ money for NNN patient hours/benefits. If the number of patients and or benefits increase then either the $$$ has to increase – will come out of somebody's pocket (the only place it can come from) or the $$$/NNN has to decrease (industry get payed less for more work). Increasing efficiency is just another way of stating the same thing. If they could have done this already, they would have and increases their profits. So, Universal Health Care in the US will almost certainly hurt the medical industry and/or increase the costs we pay. Since the industry has some substantial influence, my guess is we will pay or lose benefits (like the long waits for service you mentioned).
    Another option is to stop underwriting the rest of the world's health care by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and legalize re-import so we can buy drugs at the lowest international price rather than paying 10x the price in the US our neighbors pay in Canada. This would not be a total fix; but, reducing the cost of health care could free up some $$ to cover the uninsured.

  • Stone Edge

    I don't understand how this is still a question. Universal healthcare costs less, is the same for everyone, usually still leaves people the choice to go to a private institute with their money if they want to… And about the fact that the government has a greater hold on health choices than people, let's remember that anti-vaxxers are a thing in the U.S. Maybe it's better that the government handles health rather than the uninformed citizen

  • Riot Act Ready

    I don't think you adequately described the "less choice" con. That choice is ties directly to your available capital and simply not available to the majority of Americans. Additionally suggesting that Americans have more choice now when they need to worry about their in-network facilities is not exactly a fair comparison to "any clinic, healthy unit, it hospital in the country will serve you with no questions asked"

  • Thomas R. Jackson

    The other main issue is simply what is politically possible. We have lots of people unhappy with their health care, lots more very happy with it, and some in between. If you are in the majority of people happy with their healthcare and able to afford it (60-80%), you might want to see change, but not want to get your own situation hurt. But there are solutions that don’t depend on trashing existing systems that work.

  • Thomas R. Jackson

    The idea that universal healthcare would save money is often proposed, but there isn’t a lot to support the idea. Our divergence in healthcare costs from the rest of the world isn’t coincident with their adoption of universal system, and if you simply eliminated private insurance all together without replacing it with anything, we would still have higher costs than most countries. That doesn’t make universal healthcare a bad idea, I think we should have it. However the narrative that it would pay for itself or save money is poorly founded.

  • kittenclaws

    Also there's the plain human cost. I do medical transport. People lose limbs because they don't have access to Insulin, which should be so absurdly cheap as to mean nothing.

    And universal coverage doesn't reduce costs effectively unless we cap the obscene profit mongering that drives our care and medication costs to absurd heights. Ask anyone who needs an epinephren auto-injector.

  • HugAProbe

    I'm disappointed you framed the cost as "your taxes will be raised" for the con. It's a talking point that's suppose to sound scary but doesnt actually make sense when you talk about how much you spend. You yourself debunked that idea at the start yet kept in the scare tactic as if it's a valid criticism.

    Also why not discuss how we could fund drug research, more than we already do, through an extra tax which would still be less than market insurance while also making sure people dont die. I'm glad a ceo has the best private health insurance that they love but liking your privileged health insurance shouldn't override someone's right to live.

  • xCallOfDoodie

    if you look at how research and development of drugs are funded, most of them are funded by the government already. having universal healthcare would not stifle innovation.

  • Eric D

    Except that innovation in healthcare barely exists outside of existing government funded research in our current system so changing the system has very little chance to hurt that.

  • Tyson Adams

    The Manhattan Institute guy is being a bit misleading. E.g. he said that other countries don't get drugs that the US does. That is misleading. Those drugs are often still in negotiation for approval, or they are being windowed, or they are one of many drugs in a category and not necessarily better, etc. Also, I can speak from personal experience in Australia on getting a joint operation: yeah, it takes time regardless of private or public healthcare. So again, misleading.

  • Willow Draven

    The amount of both-sidesism exhibited by this channel is gross. One side is clearly correct here, but you still had to have on a conservative "expert" to badmouth the whole concept.

  • c'est la vegan

    I’ve had state healthcare in Oregon for over 3 years now, and it’s been pretty great; prescriptions, office visits, specialist visits (including mental health) and some dental work have all been free. But I’m about to start a big kid job with benefits which will require me to pay for my healthcare again. The question in the video title leads to a enormously complex answer, but I do wonder how it’d play out if the country’s healthcare system was like Oregon’s. With all the wealth in this country it seems that no one should go uncovered.

  • Ceelvain

    Insurances are mostly a scam.
    What they're supposed to do is smooth out the expenses across your whole life and across the population. When you run the numbers, you'll see that the expected expenses over your lifetime is a lot less than what you'd pay an insurance. If you can afford to pay upfront, just don't get an insurance.
    Well, at least in France where the government pay usually for 70% of the cost and the remaining part is paid by an insurance policy or by you directly.

    Insurance is a very lucrative business based on an irrational fear of the very unlikely. And that's why it's here to stay in a form or another.
    The rational is that insurance companies are run by rich and influential people. So if the governement is nice to them, they'll be nice in return. That's one of the bias of the crony capitalism. It's a self sustaining state where the benefits of a selected few are at the expense of the majority.

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