World Health Day 2018: What Universal Health Coverage Means

April 7, 2018, is World Health Day. Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) develops a theme for this special day. This year’s theme is “Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere.” The organization already started using the hashtags “#UniversalHealthCoverage” and “#HealthForAll” to bring attention to this issue in healthcare. Unfortunately, a lot of people do not understand exactly what universal health coverage (UHC) means.

Key Messages of World Health Day 2018

This year, the key message behind World Health Day is that universal healthcare provides individuals with the quality health services they need when they need it regardless of what financial hardships they may or may not encounter. WHO wants to establish a world in which you no longer have to choose between receiving quality healthcare or having a roof over your head and food on your table. Countries other than the United States have already established universal health coverage systems. These systems work, and they are feasible. While every country approaches UHC a little differently (because this isn’t a one size fits all issue), there are advancements every country could make toward providing universal coverage. This year, World Health Day is about the fact that no one should have to worry about how to pay for their next trip to the doctor.

Too Many People Lack Healthcare

The point of UHC is to provide health coverage for everyone regardless of who they are and how much money they have. Falling into poverty should not prevent you from getting proper healthcare. The rich should not live longer simply because they can afford better care than the poor can. Statistically, 50 percent of the planet cannot obtain basic healthcare services because they cannot afford it. Roughly 100 million people live in extreme poverty. We shouldn’t live in a world where we view basic healthcare as a luxury.

How Can You Get Involved

Take the time to communicate your needs, wants, opinions, and expectations to local politicians, policymakers, ministries, and other local representatives. Make a necessary amount of noise to draw attention to the issue. Hold and attend events where individuals share stories about how a lack of health coverage affects them.

The Benefits of Universal Health Coverage

Universal health coverage will decrease the cost of healthcare across the planet. It lays a foundation for the government to control the price of medical services and medication through regulation. It eliminates all the costs associated with different health insurance providers. Plus, it saves time, as doctors only deal with government insurance providers. Medical institutions can save money since they will not need a person just to handle the myriad of complicated health insurance issues.

UHC also forces medical institutions to provide the same quality of care to everyone – regardless of their income level. Currently, some countries – such as the United States – have a competitive healthcare industry. This industry focuses on new technology and highly paid doctors. This competitive healthcare industry targets wealthy patients to make a higher profit. Therefore, this leaves individuals living in poverty behind and causes their health to suffer. This is what the message for World Health Day 2018 is all about – this is what needs to change.

With UHC in place, the workforce as a whole is healthier. Statistics show that preventative healthcare decreases the need for rushed and expensive emergency room procedures. Statistics also show that nearly 50 percent of individuals in the United States go to the emergency room for healthcare because they do not have anywhere else to go. Universal coverage would give them other options. Individuals – your patients – would not have to wait until things get bad to get help.

UHC even sets the children of society up for the best possible future. Individuals who receive proper and preventative healthcare as children are less likely to commit crimes and become welfare-dependent.

Society as a whole improves with the implementation of universal healthcare.

Why Does This Matter to Nurses?

As a nurse, World Health Day is something you should celebrate each year. This issue matters to you because as a healthcare professional, your job is to help people. Universal healthcare would increase the demand for nurses and offer more job opportunities as more people start going to the doctor. It would also make your job easier as a hospital nurse, as people would not have to wait until “things get bad” because they couldn’t afford routine doctor check-ups. Everyone benefits from universal health coverage, so you should do your part to support World Health Day this year.

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