Business, Community & Government

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.

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

Topics include: Three Approaches to Public Health Care • Universal Coverage Isn't as Costly as It Seems • The Political Challenge: Path Dependence • Advocating for Health Reform


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...

About the Instructor

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.

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Paul Krugman

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

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