We’re already paying for universal health care. Why don’t we have it?

This essay by economists Liran Einav and Amy Finkelstein, who is the co-scientific director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) North America, argues that the United States is already spending an equivalent amount of taxpayer money on healthcare as other high-income countries, yet American citizens are not receiving the benefits of universal coverage. A number of issues with the current healthcare system persist. For instance, even insured Americans can face the risk of huge medical bills for their covered care and about 11% of Americans under the age of 65 are uninsured in any given month, while many more are constantly at risk of losing their coverage. This reality contradicts the idea that health insurance should provide stability and the authors ague that universal coverage should be automatic, free, and basic. The solution to the United States' health insurance issues may not be as unique as its problem; adopting a model of guaranteed basic coverage, as seen in other high-income countries, could be the answer.

The New York Times