Another thing that is being mentioned a lot in the news in the States at the moment is universal healthcare. They don’t have an equivalent of the NHS that we have in the UK, to get healthcare in the US you need to have health insurance. Just as with car insurance or travel insurance, the more you pay the better coverage you get – the cheaper insurance policies will have high excesses (the amount you have to pay in the event of a claim) and may not cover all treatments.

The cost of insurance has been going up in recent years, and more and more Americans can’t afford to have any insurance at all. Small businesses are also finding it difficult to provide healthcare for their employees, as they can’t negotiate big discounts with healthcare providers. The number of Americans without insurance has been increasing, and although hard numbers are difficult to find (different organisations count the uninsured in different ways), this study claims that it could be as many as one in three are uninsured.

President Obama is pushing for healthcare reform which would cover all Americans with a government-run system, the cost of which is estimated at $611 billion. That’s a lot of money, and it could hit American taxpayers for years to come. However, it may end up costing them less than the private insurance route – as this Wikipedia article says, more is spent per person for healthcare in the US than in any other country – a centralised approach may be more efficient.

What relevance does this have for us in the UK? I believe that healthcare reform could help improve the US economy, and as I said in my last post, that will help bring the world out of recession. Why do I think this? Small businesses in the US are struggling in the current economic climate – they are having to cut healthcare benefits for their employees, or face increasing costs. Citizens with insurance spend less time being ill (as they get better treatment, or indeed any treatment, and also can take preventative measures like regular check-ups) and therefore take less time off work and are therefore more productive. With the burden of providing healthcare for employees lifted, small businesses and family-run businesses should be able to weather the storm of the global recession, and turn a profit sooner.

This is all assuming that the cost of medical insurance as it is currently is higher than the increased taxes that will be required for government healthcare to be provided. This is by no means certain, and of course, health insurance is optional but taxes are not!

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Economy

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