Universal coverage, as it stands in modern industrialized nations, is a form of socialized health insurance available to all citizens of a given country. Typically, such a healthcare delivery system focuses on minimizing risk for citizens by collectivizing revenue sources. That is, the government usually manages a single large reservoir of funds (single-payer system) and repays healthcare providers and health insurance companies as needed. This is vastly different from the private health insurance industry in the United States, which often ties health insurance benefits to employment. As the economy fluctuates and jobs become scarce, employer-based private health insurance may often be beyond the reach of many less specialized workers.
Revenue for a single-payer universal coverage system, however, could potentially come from multiple sources. Proponents of universal coverage often cite the implementation of Medicare, a national socialized health insurance program that assists all US citizens over the age of 65, as an example of how universal coverage could work in the United States. Developing a single-payer system in the vein of Medicare would allow for more effective negotiation on the part of the government. As the holder of national health contracts, the government can negotiate strongly with healthcare product manufacturers and private health insurance companies alike. Revenue would likely be drawn primarily from a single source funded by income taxation, whereby all citizens are made aware of the medically-oriented distribution. Funding such a system in the United States, however, is made more complex by the fact that substantial income tax revenue already makes its way into the health sector, yet American citizens are not provided coverage by default. This has led to calls for significant healthcare reform.
As for employer-based health insurance, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (also known as Obamacare or the ACA) was meant to address these growing concerns regarding widespread (over 50 million citizens as of 2012) lack of access to both health insurance and healthcare services. One of the most important pieces of the law is the mandate requiring private employers with 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance benefits to their full-time staff. Employers who leave full-time staff uninsured will have to pay a financial penalty. Likewise, uninsured individuals are mandated to purchase one of the Affordable Care Act’s public health insurance packages or pay a financial penalty. These mandates were meant to address in part the stresses on American healthcare delivery resulting from providing services to uninsured citizens.