Is Medicaid the Closest Benefit to Free Healthcare in the US?

Universal Healthcare in the European Union

According to a study that analyzed the pros and cons of European healthcare, universal healthcare comes at a financial cost. While most European Union member nations have universal healthcare, it is not a centralized issue set forth by the commission. The premises are largely the same, but each member nation still has its own unique terms. However, while each nation does not have identical healthcare policies, the European Union commission has an agreement that allows all healthcare cards issued by the EEA (European Economic Area), Switzerland, and even post Brexit United Kingdom, to be valid in any member nation. Therefore, if a “carte vitale” is issued to a French citizen who travels to Italy, bangs his head, and finds himself in the emergency room, he still does not have to worry about any major healthcare costs.

Comparing American and European healthcare

 Average American healthcare is 70% more expensive than European healthcare. Oftentimes, patients who lack insurance or have insurance that does not cover full costs, are presented with unpredictable healthcare bills and left scrambling to find a way to pay for them. In this manner, social advocates deem the American healthcare system absolutely unaffordable and geared toward “solely the rich.” On the other hand, European national costs are typically standard, so patients are aware of each breakdown of their bill that is paid by the government.

Naturally, a cheaper healthcare system  comes with consequences. Despite a lower cost of living, European salaries are significantly lower because high tax rates are collected to fund the universal healthcare system. A French citizen who works 35 hours a week collects an average salary of 2,500 euros a month. Upper class individuals find themselves sacrificing their hard earned money to fund healthcare for the lower class. It is also worth noting that not all forms of healthcare are covered. For example, French healthcare does not include dental care in its plan. As a result, many citizens avoid going to the dentist. There’s a reason they often say “the best way to identify an American is by their perfect toothed smile!” 

Lower wages also deter citizens from becoming doctors. In the USA, a common intriguing factor for students to pursue a career in the medical industry is a high salary. An average American doctor pockets $250,000 a year, while a doctor in Europe usually receives 10,000 euros before hefty taxes. 

Lastly, because medical care is so abundant, European citizens often find themselves waiting weeks for an appointment with their doctor. Patients often come to the doctor for pointless reasons. According to the study, this issue specifically persists in the emergency room where patients are often caught coming in for reasons that do not justify the action and could have been attended to in a softer manner.

Where Does This Leave Us?

It may be true that Americans without full time jobs do not have access to affordable healthcare and even then, often do not have insurance that covers all medical costs. However, universal healthcare in Europe that covers most costs is also not consequence free. When comparing the two, we must consider what is important to us: higher salaries and lower taxes or a standardized way of life that opens a hopeful pathway to affordable healthcare for all? We must also consider the question: will universal healthcare ever be a puzzle piece that can fit into the American puzzle? For one, previous election surveys have shown that Americans always have and still do name lower taxes as one of their top critical issues when voting for a specific presidential candidate. Therefore, in today’s world, a universal healthcare system seems unfathomable in the USA. The fact is, higher salaries and free healthcare are conflicting ideas and finding a consensus between the two currently seems quite impossible. 

In America, the closest benefit to free healthcare is the national Medicaid program. Through Medicaid and the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the American government has attempted to shorten the disparity between the wealthy and low income classes. Presently, over 72.5 million Americans who are pregnant, obtain Social Security benefits, are disabled, or low income, receive Medicaid benefits. Medicaid qualification is based on Modified Gross Income, or MAGI. Income is accordingly determined using the same rules as the IRS with some minor variations. Individuals who are members of MAGI eligible groups should apply for Medicaid with the New York State of Health. MAGI eligibility groups include adults 19-24 years old who are not eligible for Medicare, children 1-18 years old, and pregnant individuals. Non–MAGI groups include individuals over 65 who are not parents or caretakers and individuals who are blind or disabled. In order to be eligible for Medicaid, you must also be a United States citizen and meet the household size and income requirements. It is important to note that even if your income is typically considered too high for Medicaid, you may be eligible based on your disability status.

Attorney Fershteyn Can Help

If you or a loved one have difficulties accessing affordable healthcare due to personal circumstances or low income, then you may be eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid planning attorney Inna Fershteyn has over 20 years of experience helping clients successfully apply for Medicaid. To see if you fulfill the eligibility requirements for Medicaid, please contact Medicaid planning attorney Inna Fershteyn at (718) 333–1233 for all important inquiries. Inna is at your disposal and will do everything in her legal power to help your case.