The United States national health care is in need of reforms due to the spiraling cost of health care and around 46 million Americans are not insured, while several other millions are underinsured. During the 2008 presidential elections, the issue of health reforms was among the top priority issues in all campaigns.
The United States directs a lot of money to healthcare, although the life expectancy of women and the infant mortality are similar to those of other developed nations (Kaiser, 2009).
After being elected as the president, Obama and the democrats came up with elaborate health reforms aimed at creating a universal healthcare system in United States.
The program packaged as an economic stimuli entailed a public insurance modeled after Medicare, whereby all legal residents of the United States below 65 years lacking access to insurance coverage in their workplaces or any Medicare at all, would be in a position to buy a health plan from the National Health Insurance ran by the government (Gelman, Lee and Ghitza, 2010).
The healthcare plan was to be financed by money collected from taxes meaning that citizens would be paying higher taxes to ensure all Americans have access to health insurance.
A poll carried out by Associated Press running from September 2009 up to March 2010 found out that 40 to 50 percent of Americans whose opinion was sought, opposed the public health plan (Gelman, Lee and Ghitza, 2010). Most of those opposed to the healthcare plan were republicans and those with strong conservative views.
The opposition to the health care reforms stems from the public opinion that the present medical industry is doing well as it is fuelled by consumer choice and competition. By implementing a universal health care, many people argue that the capitalistic and democratic foundation of the United States economy that has been in place ever since its establishment would be threatened.
Success of the universal health plan can only be achieved by a change in opinion at an individual, organization and community level. According to National Institutes of Cancer, health programs that are successful use strategic planning and deeply understand the health problem targeted and the environment in which they are found (Croyle, 2005).
This means that those formulating the universal health plan should have educated the diverse American population on its complexities and its benefits, to win over the public opinion.
Success of Canada and Germany Universal Health
Unlike the US, Germany and Canada have successful universal health plans, with Germany using a multiple-payer plan. The Germany and Canadian governments pay healthcare cost for every person from the taxes collected and also set all fees charged by doctors and hospitals, making healthcare affordable. The success of the universal care in Canada can be attributed to the positive public opinion of the country’s citizens.
A public opinion carried out in 2005 showed that 85 percent of Canadians were of the opinion that scrapping off the public health care would result in a fundamental change in Canada , than eliminating the other six policies stated such as concluding peacekeeping missions or abandoning the official languages of Canada; French and English (Soroka, 2007).
During this survey, 87 percent of the respondents viewed the elimination of the universal health plan as negative, validating the strong public support of the Canadian health plan (Soroka, 2007). Apart from this, most Canadians cited healthcare as the most essential problem to the country.
They also overwhelmingly voted health care as the most important policy issue to the country during the opinion poll, showing that Canadians have continuously showed interest in their health care.
The Communications Canada polling report of 2002 that captured the responses of prioritized issues against the government performance showed that healthcare was the highest prioritized policy issue and the government got the lowest ratings on the same.
A thorough analysis on the public opinion of the healthcare system carried out in 2002 by Matthew Mendelssohn of Queens University and the report later on handed over to the Romanow commission, showed that Canadians tremendously supported the universal healthcare (Soroka, 2007).
According to the report, Canadians also raised concerns about the sustainability and quality of healthcare and urged the government to put more effort so as to improve the system.
The government responded to the public concerns raised in the Romanow commission report by implementing some reforms such as formulating the 10 Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care during a ministers meeting in 2003. The success of the Canadian universal plan can be attributed to the constant concerns raised by citizens, the positive public opinion, as well as their continued confidence with the health care system (Soroka, 2007).
Croyle, R. (2005). Theory at a glance: a guide for promotion (Second Edition). National Cancer Institute, Washington DC.
Gelman, A., Lee, D., Ghitza, Y. (2010). Public opinion on health care reform. Columbia University, New York.
Kaiser, H. (2009). National health insurance: a brief history of reform efforts in the U.S. Kaiser Family Foundation, California.
Soroka, S. (2007). Canadian perceptions of the health care system. Health Council of Canada, Quebec.