American Health Care System

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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The American health care system is frequently referred to as a "two-tier" model that covers both the public and private sectors. Those who have the means can visit doctors of their choosing whenever and as often as they please. Everyone else has access to some form of publicly funded health care, which is generally less desirable. Compare this with a single-payer system in which the state manages all of its citizens' health care needs and ensures that every man, woman, and child has basic coverage.

Public health care resources are often characterized by less choice, longer lines, and greater bureaucracy. Patients may not only have fewer options in choosing providers, but in selecting treatments as well. At the same time, HMOs and other forms of managed care guarantee at least some measure of protection in the event of a medical emergency, which, to many, is their greatest strength.

Single-Payer Versus Two-Tier Health Care

While a two-tier system seems to have served Americans well, strong arguments exist against this model. One is the disparity between the quality of care in public and private systems. Opponents maintain that the very rich have access to the best doctors, while the less affluent must "make do" with inferior resources.

Another criticism that's leveled against the American health care system is one of wastefulness. So long as doctors can command exorbitant premiums, health care costs will continue to spiral out of control. Insurance companies must then charge higher premiums to members, doctors must pay higher insurance premiums and equipment costs, and drug-makers in turn must boost their fees, resulting in inflation across the board.


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