Opinions, Special Projects

Universal Healthcare for Californians would help fix major problems in the state

A person’s health should never be a second priority, but it is a reality for many Californians. For people who cannot afford healthcare coverage, paying their rent may come before paying for medical treatment or prescriptions.

Universal healthcare coverage would help solve California’s most significant problems, including debt and homelessness.

California state government is proposing the expansion of Medi-Cal for all state residents, which might give healthcare access to the 3.2 million Californians who remain uninsured. However, most state residents without an insurance plan claim their finances stand between them and health coverage.

Approximately 37% of uninsured Californians reported that cost is the main reason they do not have health care, according to UCLA’s California Health Interview Survey in 2018. Unfortunately, California is one of the most expensive states to live in. As a result, residents are forced to choose between their health or rent.

California residents would not have to make the impossible decision with a state program for universal health care. In addition, taxes cost would not rise for most people, as the program would be paid for by the wealthy.

By giving everyone in California access to healthcare, people will no longer have to choose between money or medicine, which can be crucial in mental health cases.

Suppose a person cannot treat their mental disorder. In that case, they will not maintain a healthy lifestyle and possibly be forced out of their home.

According to the Los Angeles Times, mental illness affects 51% of homeless people in LA County, and substance abuse affects 46%. Since they have no means to pay for treatment, their conditions will only worsen.

As much as LA officials claim to be working to solve the homelessness crisis, they are doing nothing to fix it.

The Los Angeles Times also found that city services such as the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority are underreporting how many unhoused people suffer from mental conditions.

The city’s Homeless Service Authority said that only 29% of the unhoused showed signs of a mental disorder, but the Times found 67% showed signs of mental illness.

County officials believe that a person with an untreated mental or physical illness can maintain a job and pay rent. Should that person ask for help, the county turns its back.

If the homeless had the tools to repair their lives and maintain a healthy lifestyle, they would take it. However, since community services such as the Homeless Service Authority are not helping, the state must provide the solution.

By giving all Californians an option to receive state-funded universal health care, California’s most prominent issues could be fixed.

If the 37% of uninsured Californians who cannot afford coverage had access to universal medical treatment, they would not have to choose between their health and their rent.

With universal healthcare, the homeless who suffer from addiction and mental illness can take back control of their life and get off the street.

Also, with the relief from enormous medical bills, Californians can afford better housing and resources for their families.

Healthcare access is a national issue. By establishing its own universal healthcare system, California could set the standard for healthcare access on a national level.

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