A Theoretical Exploration Of The Modern Health Care Crisis In The United States And The Lack Of Universal Health Care Coverage.




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The United States is unique amongst industrialized wealthy nations in not providing health care to all of its citizens. The purpose of this thesis is to provide a theoretical explanation as to why the United States does not offer health care to all of its citizens when so many other nations do. The approach is necessarily comparative. For this paper, I compare three nations: the United States, Norway and Canada as prototypical nations (in reference to health care provision) based upon levels of government involvement in health care. I explore the historical development of health care in each of the nations with the goal of identifying commonalities and differences that can enlighten the primary question of this paper that is - why doesn't the wealthiest nation of the world guarantee or provide health insurance for all of its citizens. I find that there are three factors that have hindered the development of universal health care in the United States. Firstly, I explore the structural elements of the political systems that inhibited or encouraged the growth of universal coverage schemes. Next, I look at the role of ideology in each nation, and the reasons for the prevalence of the ideologies. Lastly, in a Weberian sense I look at the role of interest groups - specifically focusing on the monopolization tendency of medical profession in the United States that occurred to a much lesser degree in Norway and Canada. These three factors have had the effect of making the enactment of universal coverage in the United States much more difficult than in either Canada or Norway. Thus, in the early years of the twenty-first century, the United States has the most costly health care system in the world yet 51 million American remain uninsured. Lastly, in terms of the factors I have identified, I discuss the future of health care reform efforts in the United States.