Provision of health care in the US is largely by the ‘out of pocket’ approach as the government only covers for the poor, the aged, the disabled and veterans who only account for less than 30% of total population. (Musgrave F, 2006). Some employers pay a certain amount or proportion of their employee’s income as premiums to insurance companies. However, the employer based coverage is not compulsory or comprehensive. If the World Health Organization (WHO) and Commonwealth findings are anything to go by, it suffices to say that the US health care system is in dire need of reform as it has many flaws.
It is very costly thus deterring many especially from the minority low income families from accessing the needed medical care. Most of these families have minimal education qualifications and consequently work in poor paying jobs. This paper highlights the problems, strengths and challenges of the current health care system before discussing the vision or proposal for a new and better system. According to WHO, there are three major issues to consider when evaluating a health care system.
They include the cost, the accessibility levels or rates as well as the manner at which people respond to their system in terms of the satisfaction levels registered. A good health care system is one where there is fairness in as far as its financing is concerned and people’s expectations are met. The infant mortality rates in such a system are low and it has a high disability adjusted life expectancy rates a clear indication of quality health. (University of Maine, 2001). The US health care system is not only the most expensive in the world but it registers the highest rate of inaccessibility.
The National Coalition on Health Care noted that approximately 46 million Americans below 65 years of age were without insurance cover which is about 18% of the total population. Over 35% employees lack the employer based medical cover and at times employees are forced to stick to one job for fear of losing medical coverage for their entire families. In 2008, the US spent $2. 4trillion on health care a figure which was feared to be as high as $3. 1 trillion in four years time. This figure was four times what the US spent on national defense. (National Coalition on Health Care, 2009).
Krugman and Wells argue that modern medical technology is to blame for the rising costs of health care. The high administrative costs can also be blamed for the aggravated costs of health care. There are long bureaucratic procedures in both the government and the private insurance companies in the submitting and approval of claims. (Krugman P and Wells R, 2006). Another factor blamed for the increased costs of health care in the US is the increasing aging population. Aged people tend to register a higher rate or incidence of illnesses as compared to the general population. (University of Maine, 2001).
There are fears that the highly commercialized US healthcare is to blame for the poor quality of health care services provided there. Proof that the quality is compromised is the fact that there is a higher infant mortality rate in US compared to other OCED countries. (University of Maine, 2001). A Commonwealth research argued that when medical professionals are motivated by profits there are higher chances that the quality of care provided would be compromised. This is attributed to the fact that they could offer treatment not based on the patient’s medical needs or requirements but on their economic well being or their ability to pay.
(Karen Collins, Dora Hughes et al, 2002). Without preventive measures due to the high cost of heath care most people especially those from the minority low income families only seek medical care as a last resort. Curative approach of dealing with diseases is more expensive and difficult to manage as in most cases the situation has deteriorated. High cost of health care can be blamed for the high numbers seeking emergency room services which are more expensive than the outpatient services. (Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey, 2004).
The Institute of Medicine noted that approximately 18000 deaths are recorded annually due to the lack of insurance in the US. These deaths would have otherwise been prevented if health care system was more accessible to all regardless their age, race or economic background. (National Academy of Sciences, 2008). Universal health care is my vision or proposal for a new health care system in the US. This system would be the most appropriate system to cover the failures or faults that are currently being faced. The poor would not feel rejected by the same government they claim to be part of in this new system.
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation website the poor Americans who are the most affected by the problem of underinsurance and lack of insurance suffer most from illnesses. They lack proper transportation, have poor housing and sanitation and ultimately succumb from disease that could have been prevented if early intervention was sought. (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2007). The problem of inaccessibility would be done away with when this system is implemented. Coverage by the government could be as high as over 90% from the current less than 30%.
This system would see Americans pursue liberty, equality and happiness which are its core principles. Introduction of the universal health care would ensure that employees are not enslaved in given employment for the fear of losing their medical cover. The widening gap between the haves and the have-nots in as far as the accessibility of health care services is concerned would also be eliminated with the introduction of universal health care. The Medicaid and Medicare programs by the government are ineffective and inefficient. (Cook D, 2004). They only cover a small proportion of the population in need of their assistance.
Those earning poor wages are ineligible to the Medicaid which is quite unfortunate given the fact that they at times barely afford their daily necessities let alone the expensive health care services. The introduction of universal health care would see that these population accesses health care services. Although eyebrows could be raised as to whether the government would be in a position to finance this health care system it is unwise to have a system that uses over 10% of her GDP on a system that only covers less than 30% of the population.
Financing the universal health care would be by the government though other players would be welcome to offer their assistance or contribution. Since the government major source of income is taxes the use of equitable taxes would be more appropriate. Here, contribution would be based on one’s income such that the poor would not share a great burden as they pay for health care given their low incomes. The rich or wealthy in the community may find this unfair arguing that health care ought to be treated like other basic needs where each family should take full responsibility providing.
The health care providers as well as the insurance companies would not be favored by the introduction of universal health care. The incomes of health care providers would be negatively affected as unlike the previous system where market forces determined the prices, the government would set these standards. To ensure that they are motivated, the government must offer incentives in addition to providing a clear cut outline on how salaries are to be paid. (Physicians for a National Health, 2008). This could be based on one’s experience, expertise as well as level of education.
To ensure that the problem of overcrowding in the health care facilities does not have adverse effects on the health care provision in the system intensive training, prior bookings and information technology would be encouraged. The current system can be praised for having the best equipment or medical facilities a fact that would be undermined if universal health care was to be introduced. This is attributed to the fact that the government may not afford very expensive equipment given her minimal resources in the face of many needs or requirements.
Proper planning may however be vital in ensuring that this problem is resolved. References: Annie E. Casey Foundation. 2007. Health. Retrieved on Retrieved on 26th march 2009 from http://www. aecf. org/OurWork/Health. aspx Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey. (2004). Health Policy. 2004 Cook D. (2004). Medicaid’s future foretold by Medicare Modernization Act. Journal of medical Association. 15-25 Karen Collins, Dora Hughes et al 2002. Diverse Communities, Common Concerns: Assessing Health Care Quality for Minority Americans.
Retrieved on 26th March 2009 from http://www. commonwealthfund. org/usr_doc/collins_diversecommun_523. pdf? section=4039 National Academy of Sciences. 2008. Insuring America’s Health: Principles and Recommendations. Retrieved on 26th March 2009 from http://www. iom. edu/CMS/3809/4660/17632. aspx National Coalition on Health Care. 2009. Health Insurance Costs. Retrieved on 26th March 2009 from http://www. nchc. org/facts/cost. shtml Physicians for a National Health. 2008. Single-Payer National Health Insurance. Program.
Retrieved on 26th March 2009 from http://www. pnhp. org/facts/single_payer_resources. php. Paul Krugman and Robin Wells. 2006. The Health Care Crisis and What to Do About It Retrieved on 26th march 2009 from http://www. nybooks. com/articles/18802. University of Maine. 2001. The US health care system: Best in the world or just the most Expensive. Retrieved on 26th March 2009 from http://dll. umaine. edu/ble/U. S. %20HCweb. pdf Musgrave, F (2006). The economics of U. S. health care policy: the role of market forces. M. E. Sharpe Publishers. 2-15