Is The US Healthcare System Sick?

In essence, the healthcare system in the United States is sick.  The high cost of care has increasingly created numerous barriers and resulted in poor patient outcomes. It is, therefore, fundamental for policymakers to transform the current American healthcare system, thus preventing it from collapsing due the existing economic burden. Key players should also lobby the government to benchmark with other developed nations known for the provision of affordable and high-quality healthcare.

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Compare how much the United States and Europe spend on healthcare every year

            The federal government has always reaffirmed its commitment to providing universal care and safeguarding its citizen’s well-being. It is for this reason that the United States channels considerable amounts of resources towards healthcare in its annual budget. On average, the United spends more money on healthcare compared to other developed countries in Europe. This prevailing state of affairs has been blamed on the high price of pharmaceutical goods and services in North America. Furthermore, the United States is ranked top among other members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in its annual spending on healthcare and related activities. In 2019, the federal government allocated $3.6 trillion towards healthcare, which far exceeds the 3% to 14% of the national budget in which Switzerland remains (World Health Organization, 2019).  Also, policymakers are cognizant of this reality and have promoted the implementation of the Affordable Carte Act to remedy emerging challenges related to limited insurance coverage.

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Metrics Used to Measure Health and Where the United States fall According to those Metrics

Health metrics are important measures in healthcare which aid nations in identifying the best strategies to employ when seeking to improve the general health and well-being of their populations. These parameters also track performance of programs and health initiatives employed to improve the system. Health metrics identify crucial areas of individual’s wellbeing and inform the aspiration of major states. They also foster an environment where evolving insights are encouraged and considered to introduce cumulative gains. Health metrics now guide the Department of Health and Human Services in its quest of improving multi-level health outcomes within all levels of society. This clear sense of direction enables government agencies to champion for the introduction of reforms to improve the current system and level of performance. Life expectancy, infant mortality rate, causes of premature death and personal healthcare access are the most common healthcare metrics in use today.  The United States has a life expectancy of 78 years, an infant mortality rate of 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live, poor lifestyle choices as the leading cause of premature death with only 91.5% of the population with health insurance (“Health System Metrics,” 2019). These metrics thus guide healthcare reform by identifying areas requiring immediate attention and focus.

Rationale for the Role of Government in Healthcare

            Government plays a major role in healthcare.  It is one of the major benefactors of the sector and seeks to promote early prevention to avert future healthcare challenges. The United States Constitution highlights this in its “general welfare” clause which underscores its commitment to safeguarding individuals from infectious diseases and related hazards. The federal government also actively seeks to improve the quality of care by establishing adequate public health infrastructure.  This is particularly important in maintaining a well-functioning system, public health and quality improvement. Elaborate campaigns also promote healthy behavior which also goes a long way in preventing the spread of communicable diseases.       

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By so doing, the population is always assured of health services while facilitating collaboration between local governments and the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (Schulte, 2011). Poverty is also a salient factor in government intervention.  Low socio-economic levels often mean that individuals are unable to secure healthcare insurance which ultimately makes them ineligible to receive care from facilities across different states.  The federal government, therefore, seeks to increase access to care by reducing poverty through progressive tax, public assistance programs and managing the economy.

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How Healthcare might be Reformed to Address High Costs and Limited Coverage

            The high cost of care and limited coverage in the United States can be addressed through elaborate healthcare reform initiatives. This can be done through the creation of a robust framework where providers are organized around patient’s needs. Through this policy, health facilities will implement patient-focused care which is cheaper and convenient. Consolidating the services provided in healthcare facilities is also capable of lowering the cost of care in the United States (Leatt & Mapa, 2016). Amalgamating crucial services such cardiovascular services in a single care facility will, therefore, improve the quality of care dramatically while reducing cost. Eradicating the free-for-service payment system is also capable of eliminating a perverse model which reimburses medical practitioners and care facilities based on volume of services as opposed to quality. Furthermore, embracing technology is also bound to improve the healthcare system through reliance on comprehensive electronic health records, incorporating telehealth services and using big data to predict trends within the industry.   

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Prospective Advantages and Disadvantages of a Single-payer System

The single-payer health care system utilizes a single pool of funds for the payment of medical bills. This system has several pros and cons. One of the major advantages of the single-payer health care system is unlimited insurance coverage which enables individuals to gain access to physicians and treatment. Additionally, all providers within this healthcare system are paid at the same rate, allowing medical providers to always remain aware of the expected payment. It also fosters a spending leverage by relying on prescription medication and the application of technological advancements. Costs are also reduced while also minimizing the use of health insurance. Nevertheless, single-payer health care system has been criticized for creating a suitable environment for providers to opt for private-pay only. Additionally, it does not solve the doctor shortage problem and requires a steady pool of resources to be successful.

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