The Disadvantages of Universal Healthcare

Universal health care may serve more people but possibly at a quality cost.

Health care in the United States is largely inefficient. Physicians for a National Health Program asserts that even though the nation spends more than twice what other industrialized nations spend on health care, the system still performs poorly and leaves more than 50 million without coverage. These inefficiencies are largely what stimulated health care debate during the 2008 presidential election and which have led some to propose a more universal health care. Universal coverage does have advantages like economic stimulation, but it also has drawbacks.


Under universal health care, everyone is entitled to receive care. Theoretically, this increases the number of people who can get help. However, universal health care does not necessarily proportionately increase the number of physicians available. The physicians that are licensed and qualified to treat patients therefore inevitably have a larger care burden. Quality of care may suffer as doctors become burned out. Even if doctors could handle the increased physical and mental demands of universal health care, patients still might have to deal with long waits for care as doctors try to accommodate more people.


Universal health care is not free care. Funding must come from somewhere and usually the burden of the cost falls on taxpayers. Typically, this means a rise in taxes. In times of economic turmoil, this can be difficult for a people to sustain. If a nation wishes to pay for universal health care without raising taxes, other federally funded programs have to be cut. This creates the problem of prioritizing all the other programs that exist.

Lack of Competition

American doctors and other health care workers are motivated to provide excellent care because of competition. If one company is unreasonably slow in providing care, for example, patients can seek out a company that doesn't make them wait so long. Universal health care systems eliminate much of this competition. Some people who oppose universal health care assert that it will make health care providers lazier and contribute to lower quality of care. This is not necessarily true. The government and public can develop a watchdog system that maintains and validates a minimum standard of excellence.