Why Expanding Government Health Programs Is Essential To Help The Uninsured

Across the world, a large number of people with inadequate social security coverage suffer from the high cost of market driven healthcare costs. This is largely because the free market is both theoretically and practically incapable of providing optimal healthcare services, leading to a very strong argument in favour of expanding Government Health Programs as the only available remedy.
Why Expanding Government Health Programs is Essential to Help the Uninsured
Source - Wikimedia Commons(https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AVillageReach_-_Hospital_served.jpg)

Government Health Programs

Expanding government health programs is not an inefficient way. In fact, it is the only practical way to reasonably help the uninsured. However, the manner in which this expansion is undertaken may be efficient or inefficient.
In simpler words, when it comes to ensuring healthcare, the millions of uninsured Americans cannot be left to the vagaries and uncertainties of the market, and that being so, the only other feasible option is that the government provide their health needs and bears the cost.

Why Health Care cannot be Left to the Market

Economists call health care a 'Merit Good' - meaning

that it is something that should be available to all irrespective of their paying capacity.

However, this is not the only reason why medical care cannot be left totally to the market forces. There are certain other features of medical care, which prevent free market to provide efficiency in medical care. Most important of them is the fact that medical care market is a Supplier Driven Market - where the supplier (and not the buyer) decides what he should buy. So the medication you take, the medical investigations you are made to undergo, and the surgery you agree to subject yourself - are all decided by your physician or surgeon - not by you, and these medical specialists, stand to gain by making you undergo these medications or procedures.

The supplier driven market has an interesting characteristic - more the number of suppliers, more will be the demand for them, so that prices will never come down. Because of these characteristics, the medical care market is never as efficient as the free markets for other commodities. This makes government intervention necessary.

Moral Hazard of Medical Insurance: Leads to Rising Costs

Another reason that needs an intervention by government, is the fact that insurance for medical care creates a problem of its own. Once a patient is insured, he is least interested in containing

the cost of his medical care, and when all customers are similarly indifferent - thanks to insurance cover - the premiums for medical insurance go up and up, making medical insurance difficult to afford for a lot of people.

Role of Government Health Care Programs

The government health programs have a very important role in all countries. Many countries rely on it much more than insurance, but even in countries like US, where medical insurance is the primary source of medical care financing, government programs have an important role to play, to ensure that all citizens have some facility for medical care available to them.

One of the main criticisms against the government health programs pertains to their deficiencies, and comparative unresponsiveness of the medical personnel deployed therein. However, many of these deficiencies are because of distortions in incentives available to these personnel, and can be removed by better management and accountability.

For the millions of Americans who do not have a proper medical insurance cover, expanding government health programs provide a major source of security against medical catastrophe. Even for the corporate sector, it will be a welcome step, given the fact, that rising costs of medical insurance of employees is posing a threat to their financial health during the last few years. Lastly, such a step would also put some breaks on the consistently escalating costs of medical care, which is already much higher than any other country, and is projected to rise further in the coming years.

The expansion of government is not an inefficient way to help the uninsured. In fact, it may be the only viable option to help the uninsured!

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