What does it mean to have universal healthcare? The answer to this question will inevitably vary depending on what country you live in; however, there is one consonant stance that most of us believe in: access to universal health care can significantly increase life quality and security. Taking the step to provide free health care in the United States should not be an abrupt nor spontaneous decision, given that such rapid change could potentially incite economic turmoil. However, achieving access to free health care in a nation is not unheard of, and with gradual implementation of policy, health care could be accessible to all.
To this day, there are numerous countries that provide universal health care. For example, Costa Rica – a developing country – provides a public and private sector for health care. The public sector (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social) is available to all citizens as well as legal residents and, socially and economically, is considered highly efficient. As a Costa Rican national and resident for seven years, I have been able to understand and learn more about its health care policies, even after I moved from there to the US. Although the US and Costa Rica possess different economic characteristics, Costa Rica can stand as an epitome of successful health care reform for other developing countries, as well as developed countries. By studying the economics behind Costa Rica’s health care policies and learning from their advances and flaws, the US and countries across the globe could potentially become closer to establishing a more accessible and efficient health care system.
The next step is to evaluate and analyze the social and economic outcomes that have occurred since the implementation of universal health care in a country like Costa Rica. Undoubtedly, one of the greatest social benefits of free health care is that it generally improves quality of life. Economically, the health care system in Costa Rica is successful because it is affordable for the country and accessible to its citizens. However, there are major setbacks: sometimes there is an increased wait time to be medically treated, universal health care could decrease quality of treatment (resources run out faster because they are being used up quickly), and it could indirectly lower the wages of doctors over time. It is important to acknowledge these setbacks and consider whether economically such system would succeed in a country. These issues need to be addressed in order to establish a more successful healthcare system. In spite of the disadvantages of free health care, it is important to understand that an accessible system of health care in a nation can result in a much higher quality of life for its citizens, and that all countries should take the next steps towards creating a more accessible health care system.