Case Study # 3 – Universal Health Care:
The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not offer some form of universal health care, and each year the number of uninsured Americans is increasing. Many people look to Canada’s health care system as a possible means of fixing our current woes. However, some of the fears associated with universal health care are:
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- Drug/medical technology companies fear that they will not make a profit.
- There will be a large tax increase.
- Quality of care will decrease.
The following cases and their corresponding questions address some of the problems and fears.
A mother brings her son into the emergency room during an asthma attack. Though both of his parents work, they cannot afford medical insurance for themselves or him. They also earn too much money to qualify for state or federal aid. He is treated for his asthma attack at the hospital and he and his mother leave. Two weeks later, they return to the hospital in a virtually identical scenario.
Questions for Case 1:
- Do you think that this boy is receiving adequate care?…Shouldn’t he be able to see a primary care physician before his condition gets so acute that he must visit the ER?
- Should everyone be entitled to a basic “minimum of health care”… or to the exact same health care?
- Do you think that health care is a right? If so, are we forced to honor this right?
- (If students answer “yes” to the above question) Is this right relative or universal? Does this right exist because of the wealth of the United States, or is it applicable everywhere? Is health care a luxury?
- Does having money entitle a person to better health care? (they may have worked harder for their greater wealth)
An upper middle class, middle aged, Canadian man is playing racket ball when he suddenly feels a pop in his knee. In pain, he makes an appointment with his general practitioner and is seen the next day. He is given pain medication, and is referred to an orthopedic surgeon (he has no choice of who he will see). After a week wait, he is seen by the orthopedic surgeon and is told he will need surgery. Two weeks later surgery is performed on the man’s knee. The physician, who is not very good, does a poor job on the knee, and the man walks with a slight limp for the rest of his life. The surgery costs the man no money directly, however, he pays for it with higher taxes.
Questions For Case 2:
- What do you think of this man’s experience in comparison to case 1? Which situation seems worse, and why?
- Does it seem like it took too long for him to receive care? (The physicians will perform surgery on the more urgent patients first and then on the less serious.)
- What do you think about not being able to choose your own physician? (Note: In the United States, many insurance companies limit which physicians you choose.)
- One suggested solution for our current health care woes is that care for the elderly be decreased/eliminated. For example, people over the age of 80 will no longer be placed on life support, which costs approximately $10,000 per day to operate. What do you think of this?
- What do you think could be a good middle ground solution to this problem?