To submit requests for assistance, or provide feedback regarding accessibility, please contact


Health Care: The Solutions

Paul Krugman

Lesson time 11:55 min

Using examples from health care systems in the UK, Canada, and Switzerland, Paul examines three approaches to universal healthcare, noting the positives and challenges of each.

Paul Krugman
Teaches Economics and Society
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman teaches you the economic theories that drive history, policy, and help explain the world around you.


Universal health care has dominated the news for many cycles, with many people arguing that it’s a human right. But what exactly is it? Here’s a primer on universal health care, including the benefits, the potential disadvantages, and why it’s such a hot topic in the United States. What Is Universal Health Care? Universal health care is a broad term that encompasses any action that a government takes to provide health care to as many people as possible. Some governments do this by setting minimum standards and regulations and some by implementing programs that cover the entire population. But the ultimate goal is health coverage for all citizens. Pros and Cons of Universal Health Care Universal health care is a hotly debated topic on both sides of the aisle. It is important to learn about the benefits and drawbacks that are often cited regarding a nation-wide policy like universal health care. Pros of Universal Health Care The most obvious pro of universal health care is that everyone has health insurance and access to medical services, and that no one goes bankrupt from medical fees. But there are other pros as well. On the federal level, universal health care lowers health care costs for the national economy, because the government controls prices for medications and services. That streamlining trickles down to the doctors offices themselves, where doctors are able to reduce administrative costs and hire fewer staff, because they’re not forced to work with a myriad of health care companies. Universal health care also equalizes service, with no doctors or hospitals being able to target and cater to wealthier clients. That means everyone gets the same level of care, which ultimately leads to a healthier workforce and longer life expectancy. When a person has universal health care from birth, it can also to lead to longer and healthier lives and reduce societal inequality by improving the long term prospects of poor children. Cons of Universal Health Care A common criticism of universal health care is that the overall quality and variety of care declines. Without the capitalist impetus to provide great care, some argue, doctors reduce their quality of care. In some countries with universal health care, patients see long wait times or even have to wait months to be seen at all. Governments focus on providing essential and lifesaving health care and may neglect to cover rare diseases or elective procedures. Finally, universal health care is expensive. If a government is struggling with their budget, they may find that health care is taking money away from other essential programs. Types of Universal Health Care There are essentially three ways to provide universal health care. Socialized medicine Single-payer system Private insurance The first is for government to provide healthcare directly under “socialized medicine.” In this case, all hospitals would be owned by the government and all doctors and nurses wo...

Think like an economist

For Nobel Prize-winner Paul Krugman, economics is not a set of answers—it’s a way of understanding the world. In his economics MasterClass, Paul teaches you the principles that shape political and social issues, including access to health care, the tax debate, globalization, and political polarization. Heighten your ability to read between the lines and decipher the underlying economics at play.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I have learned a lot through your class, thank you very much. Most of all your humility and easy going personality are some of the best characters.

I've always been an informal student of economics, but hearing insights from an economist himself has given a greater framework for understanding the world.

Never in my life have I heard such fantastic knowledge. I am so thankful I learned to read and not give up on myself in Belief that I too could become just like You Mr. Paul Krugman - learning and growing in knowledge - Globally - as I AM now having just finished up your Master Class..... Thank you so very much... Eric A. Spencer

Good first class. Really well filmed with great content. I wish we would have stayed more away from current political climate but o'well.


A fellow student

Too good..extremely well planned content and solid solutions for complex problems US is facing. We need more Paul K's lectures. Thank you Paul.


This whole talk seemed disingenuous. IF there are a relatively small number of people who are not insured, and the vast majority of these are young and healthy, and people don't want a radical change, why change at all? Because an economist says it's inefficient? Here is a far more rational and nuanced description of what we face in America regarding healthcare markets. There are two other, far significant issues in our healthcare system that Krugman ignores: What happens when everyone is flying blind because no one knows what anything costs? Well, we improvise and efficiency is lost. Second, how can we reimburse providers and change their culture to eliminate moral hazards on their end? For that, see the real expert, Atul Gawande:


Interesting to hear the American perspective. As a European that has lived under three different healthcare models (UK, Germany and Spain) I would not agree on selecting NHS as a role model.


When your beloved Obama Care came online, my rates double over 3 years. The government could not even wipe its own ass let alone run medicine.

Karen C.

Liked the way he laid out the 3 options and referenced the countries implementing these successfully.


By the way I’m an independent voter who didn’t vote for Trump and likely won’t this time around due to respectful disagreement on some policy issues, but I can say that this kind of dismissiveness and passive aggressive behavior regarding an opposing side is a trend on the Democratic side that makes me not want to vote for them. They’re too good and smart for my vote I guess. All hail the smarts of people who just dismiss the other side instead of picking apart why. Screw off with that, “Well a rational...” bs. Tell me things like why health savings accounts and subscription based doctors offices are wrong. That’d be much more interesting to hear alongside what he thinks is ideal.


Can Masterclass get another economist who will look at more angles? I would have liked to see him talk about things like health savings accounts and those doctors offices that offer a subscription model.


Another lesson that's hugely ideological. Really light on the economics, light on the proof, heavy on personal political motivations.

A fellow student

i like the talk style but too high level and not masterclass calibre.... i love krugman, but he didnt do hw here.... and why we need to see him burping every so often!!!

A fellow student

The cost of becoming a doctor is a crucial aspect of the healthcare economics. The problem with the doctors’ distorted incentive originated from both the lifestyle ambitions that are matured as a result of costs and time invested, and the pressures generated by the young doctors debt exposures. I do not think USA would be able to solve its healthcare crisis by dealing with the “middlemen” without simultaneously addressing the issue of how doctors are formed.