Well, understandably we are not in Rome. Still, why is it so hard for the United States to “do as the Romans do,” like other developed countries and provide universal access to health care? I just do not understand why the U.S. is yet to adapt to this type of health-care system for the benefit of people.

Many describe the United States health care system as a conglomerate of private and public entities. Even though millions of people are covered through their employer, Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Veteran’s Administration, and the Department of Defense, millions still are without health coverage.

Every U.S. citizen wishes for a better quality of life. I for one, have this wish. Access to health care, without the repercussions of bankruptcy or astronomical cost, would be an amazing accomplishment in the United States. Yet, how many times have we seen those –whether close relatives, friends, and even neighbors — lose their homes, get separated or divorced, go bankrupt, and in general struggle financially due to the troubles of having to pay or the inability to pay medical bills. The thought alone is very scary. No wonder, regardless of how much the United States spends on health care per person, which is more than any other country, again millions are still uninsured and have no access to healthcare.

I understand that there is a myriad of reasons for the disproportionately high health care costs in the United States. These include the use of expensive new diagnostic tests and treatments, increased cost of health and services, overuse of specialists, administrative costs, doctors fees, malpractice cost, defensive medicine, and an aging population. Yet again, other countries, the “Romans,” have already provided methods that lower health cost. So these excuses are not valid.

I remember a phrase growing up, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Though many can interpret this phrase according to their understanding, it is clear that the United States doesn’t have to look for “something new,” since what has been done in other developed countries regarding health-care policy and access has been and is still working and benefiting the people and the respective country.

The United States wishes to be the best in the world, yet is ranked at the lower end when it comes to health care. This should not be. There was a well-known actor who was speaking to an audience of young people. This actor basically said to read, just read. He said that all the questions have already been answered by someone else and all one has to do is enthusiastically read and the answers can be found through other people’s experiences.

With this in mind, the United States needs only “read’ or take notes from other successful countries regarding health care policies. Universal health care isn’t something new. It is being done successfully. So why can’t the United States “do as the Romans do?”

Edwin Quashie is a NICU RN and neonatal nurse practitioner student at the University of Connecticut.

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  1. I lived overseas and was covered by a national health plan. After that experience, I cannot understand objections to it. The lack of stress is incredible. You never have to worry about whether some emergency is covered. You will never face bankruptcy because of medical needs. The care I had was overall excellent with one exception but I was able to choose another doctor. You don’t have to fill out insurance reimbursement forms while someone is dying.

  2. Don’t we have some kind of “universal healthcare” already? If someone is not feeling well or falls and gets hurt and has no insurance what do they do? They run to the emergency room and get treated and who pays for that?

    1. U.S. law requires that emergency departments treat anyone who presents for care, without consideration of their ability to pay, until they are no longer medically at risk – i.e. once there is no longer a threat of death. However, that requirement has nothing to do with the reality that the person receiving that care is still responsible for the cost of that care.

      Sure, an emergency room cannot refuse to treat me if I’m in crisis, but they’ll be sure to send me a bill and, if I can’t pay, come after me. That leads to the stark reality that many Americans face bankruptcy due to the inability to pay these exorbitant, and often unjustifiable, charges.

      Don’t confuse access to emergency care with access to affordable care.

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