Posted: August 7th, 2013
Healthcare refers to the analysis, management, and deterrence of illness, disease, injury, and other physical and mental mutilations in human beings. It is delivered by practitioners in nursing, medicine, pharmacy, chiropractic, allied health, dentistry and other care providers. Healthcare covers other aspects as well such as provision of primary, secondary and tertiary care in public and private health. Healthcare forms an important part of a country’s economy, for example, in 2008, health care used a standard of 9.0% of the gross domestic product (GDP) across the most developed countries. The United States, France and Switzerland were the top three spenders in healthcare globally.
The activities by health care providers and institutions are regulated by national and provincial authorities for maintaining quality. Medical facilities are locations where health care providers practice their skills and the workload of any facility indicates its size. The workload of a medical facility also dictates the amount of government funding that it will receive. Most governments use measure a medical facility’s workload using the standard whole patient equivalent (SWPE). These measures and other have determined the allocation of funds and other resources to medical facilities (Reid, 2009).
Current U.S. health care system
The healthcare services in the United States are provided by many separate legal bodies with most of these being controlled and owned by the private sector. However, health insurance is mainly provided by the government and most of the cover and spending programs originating from Medicaid, Medicare, Veterans Health Administration, TRICARE and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. According to the U.S Census Bureau of 2009, over 16.3% of the population was uninsured even though the United States spends more money on health care per capita than any other country by the year 2008. The United States also has the fourth largest public spending per capita after Monaco, Luxemburg and Norway. Medical debt within America has also steadily increased and has contributed towards 46% of personal bankruptcies. This has caused a subsequent increase in health costs as well as the number of uninsured citizens (Hunnicutt, 2010).
Strengths of the health system
The American health system boasts of one of the best medical research systems globally. Many renowned medical practitioners have graduated from the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School, and the Cleveland Clinic. America also has the most advanced medical equipment and techniques in the world. Employees working within the medical sector also enjoy hefty salaries and other benefits. The proposed American insurance plans are also very comprehensive and beneficial to the people who can afford to pay the regular premiums. The American health care system also provides coverage for the vulnerable groups within society. The government provides insurance for senior citizens and the disabled. Medicaid covers the health needs of low-income individuals (Garber, 2006).
Weaknesses of the health system
The United States may be the biggest economy in the world, but their health system has been blamed for being unsatisfactory, biased and unaffordable. The recent attempts by the Obama government have been the best efforts at providing healthcare to Americans. The cost of attaining healthcare is one of the first weaknesses of the American health system. Americans pay more for health than any other nation globally. The country is also the only one that does not offer a blanket health program for all its citizens despite allocating vast amounts of public funds to the health sector. The fact that a larger chunk of the health sector is managed by private owners means that they also operate with profits. These firms find ways of denying the citizens through usage of loopholes to avoid paying for the insurance.
Private health insurance companies also make profits by increasing the charges on the Americans. The cost of insurance and other medical costs have steadily risen over the last two years. According to the National Coalition on Health Care, the contribution of the average employee to the health insurance has risen over 100% since 2005. The cost of insurance for physicians and hospital visits also increased in the same period. The senators and other federal employees have access to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program that provides healthcare insurance to them. This means that the government pays their health insurance using the taxpayers’ money while ordinary citizens have to pay it on a personal basis (Buchbinder & Shanks, 2007).
Future reforms in the American health care system
The policymakers’ attempts at reforming the US health care system have made the whole system even more risky and inefficient. Hospitals have been given the legal leeway to charge clients whatever prices they deem fit. Insured people have either the government or the insurance companies fighting on their side and therefore, have an advantage over uninsured people. This has converted the medical scene into a bilateral oligopoly where not everyone pays the same price for medical services. The healthcare system has also increasing depended on drugs as the main treatment method. Doctors have abandoned other forms of treatment such as physical therapy and nutrition and embraced a system of prescribing medicine for all types of ailments. The American health system has also increasingly invested too much human resources and funds on end-of-life care. The future of the health care system relies on proper policymaking and implementation. The new health policy will have drastic economic consequences for the economy.
Buchbinder, S. B., & Shanks, N. H. (2007). Introduction to health care management. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Garber, K. M., & American Hospital Association. (2006). The U.S. health care delivery system: Fundamental facts, definitions, and statistics. Chicago: Health Forum.
Hunnicutt, S. (2010). Universal health care. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.
Reid, T. R. (2009). The healing of America: A global quest for better, cheaper, and fairer health care. New York: Penguin Press.
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