Essay Sample on the Necessity of the US Healthcare Policy Reform

Published: 2022-04-06 21:26:51
Essay Sample on the Necessity of the US Healthcare Policy Reform
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories: Healthcare policy
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1110 words
10 min read
143 views

Why The American Health Care Policy Needs a Reform

The right to health is among the basic human rights the US government must provide to its citizens, but it has been consistently denied to millions of people. Over the last century, every administration introduced changes to make up for the shortcomings. Still, most reforms provided short-term benefits that caused further deterioration of the healthcare system in the long term. Creating a workable solution to improve American healthcare requires an in-depth understanding of the underlying problems, including the system’s fragmented nature, the lack of a consensus on funding, inequalities bred by the high costs, and growing wasteful expenses. Combined, these issues feed into each other and create a vicious circle of healthcare disintegration that requires immediate reform.

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Historical Reasons for the US Healthcare Policy Shortcomings

President Roosevelt was the first to try to govern the American healthcare system through a private insurance system. While the initiative did not succeed, after World War II, employers used insurance plans as an incentive for potential employees in place of higher wages. President Kennedy was unsuccessful in establishing a healthcare system to take care of elderly citizens, but President Johnson implemented a similar initiative (Medicare). Both Presidents Nixon and Carter also had healthcare reforms among their plans, similar to other presidential candidates. However, most of the attempts were fruitless and introduced a host of issues and increased expenses while solving only some of the existing problems.

Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, is the latest reform that took place in 2010. The adoption of the new policy increased the number of Americans capable of securing health insurance and thus reduced the number of people lacking reliable healthcare in the US. Still, the fragmented nature of healthcare reforms adopted over the last century created an untenable system that combines government-run and private hospitals, private insurance companies, and dozens of other elements. The chaotic architecture of the system prevents Americans from executing their right to health.

Core Failures of the US Healthcare System

Considering the complexity of the American healthcare system, it is impossible to identify the only problem responsible for its failures. The most apparent shortcomings interconnect to create a snowballing effect that threatens to unbalance the whole system and the American society.

The high cost of healthcare is among the major concerns, as the increasing insurance premium rates prevent millions of people from receiving healthcare. The average annual medical spending per capita exceeds $10,000, while lifetime expenses range from $250 to $350 thousand depending on gender and life expectancy. While some of the costs can be attributed to the growing prices of medication and procedures, in many cases, the rates are inflated through the use of unnecessary costly procedures and shifting the expenses from patients treated through government programs to insured Americans. The resulting increase in premium costs drives more people to apply for Medicaid or insurance plans under ACA, which only exacerbates the issue. Other sources of wasteful healthcare expenses include inefficient care delivery, high administrative costs, inflated prices, prevention failures, and fraud. As a result, the US spends over 15% of its GDP on healthcare every year, the most among the high-income countries.

Poor medical services quality is another failure of the American healthcare system stemming from multiple reasons. The lack of medical professionals of all levels and specialties is a major concern as the average age of doctors increases, and once they retire, waiting time will further increase. At the same time, the pandemic crisis caused many medical professionals to resign due to work conditions, vaccination mandates, or other reasons. The wave of resignations accelerated the loss of healthcare providers that cannot be recovered quickly. However, the shortage of medical professionals is not the sole reason for poor healthcare quality. It can also be attributed to the lack of proper preventative care necessary to prevent or manage chronic conditions that are responsible for half of all hospital stays in the US.

High cost and poor healthcare quality in the US can be partially attributed to the system’s overall inefficiency caused by the lack of coordination between its elements. For example, long wait times increasingly cause patients to turn to emergency care units instead of scheduling an appointment with a physician, which leads to prolonged wait times in the emergency rooms. At the same time, patients have problems coordinating physician visits with diagnostic tests and procedures, which further undermines the relationship between patients and their healthcare providers.

All the failures of the American healthcare system above emphasize the inequality present in US society. Low-income citizens and their families have trouble getting access to insurance plans and quality medical care, and they often suffer the brunt of the healthcare facility’s inefficiency. For example, Hispanics accounting for every fifth person in the US face greater barriers to access healthcare than the whites, including troubles getting insurance and scheduling a physician or dentist visit. The Hispanic population is also more likely to be diagnosed with obesity, HIV, and teenage pregnancy. Native American, Black, and Alaska Native populations face the same inequality when it comes to healthcare as the Latino Americans.

It may seem that the inefficiency of the medical system, along with its poor quality, drives up the cost and subsequently causes inequality for people of color. However, one can also argue that the underlying cause for most healthcare system issues lies in its historically fragmented architecture. Despite being among the leaders of medical research and revolutionary technology, the US cannot create a cohesive universal healthcare system similar to those of many European states. An even deeper look at the difficulties of creating such a system highlights the conflict inherent between the two political parties and their voters. While half of the American society welcomes social security through universal healthcare, the other half supports the privately-run health system. No groundbreaking healthcare policy reform will be successful until this dispute is settled.

Conclusion

It took almost a century to turn the American healthcare system into the nightmare of excessive expenses, inflated prices, unnecessary procedures, and inefficient management patients suffer today. While most US Presidents tried to improve the situation, none succeeded fully, including President Obama with the Affordable Care Act. The disjointed nature of the American health system resulted from the lack of political and social consensus on who should cover the bill for the citizens’ medical expenses. As long as this dispute remains present, the US will continue to suffer the loss of medical professionals, inefficient healthcare, and racial and socio-economic inequality. Any attempts to reform the healthcare system without reaching a political and social consensus are doomed to fail and exacerbate existing problems.

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