US Health Care Delivery System
USA health care delivery system is committed to providing a better, safer, and very affordable healthcare system to everyone to make life better for people in every stage of life. To improve the quality of life for everyone is the most basic goal to achieve and making bills lower for all the citizens from children to aged people (Novelli).
However, apart from its goals, if we survey our poor healthcare system, it is not as perfect as it has defined itself due to the current threatening trends: poor quality of healthcare delivery increased costs, and reduced number of insurance coverage to Americans. Hence there is a need to implement a wide range of strategies to build elementary reform (Novelli).
The most important strategies for transforming the system are
- Spotlight is to treat and manage chronic diseases
- Reduce the cost of prescription drugs
- Every citizen must have access to health care
- Support health and healthy behaviors
- Promote educational programs on healthcare & diseases. To conduct workshops, seminars and educational programs to bring awareness among children & adults.
- Employing strategies on preventing disease, not only treatment & cure.
- Implementation of IT in the health sector
- Reduced medical errors
The most important areas to be discussed here are health promotion and disease prevention in the USA health delivery system.
In countless ways, our healthcare system is a paradox. Actually, there is no such system. Even more than 47 million Americans have no healthcare insurance. US healthcare system gives us ample information about specific diseases, but practically nothing about maintaining good health in general. The damaged system spends more on intervention than prevention. It does little to give proper health and prevent disease. Apart from having drugs, medical devices, advanced therapies the most important interventions which are absent (Novelli).
Medical research focuses more on understanding disease & its pathology instead of understanding health. Pharmaceutical research & development are based on making profitable interventions for disorders, but no attention has been given to health promotion and disease prevention (Novelli).
To the millions of uninsured people of the world, a universal healthcare system that tends to the needs of the general public is an ideal. The benefits of such a system are many. Prenatal care improves the health of both mother and child; the regular availability of treatment keeps small health issues from becoming enormous health problems with an equally enormous expense, and increases the overall life expectancy of the population. Countries including “Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Japan … provide Universal Healthcare for all of their citizens.” (Mance, 2003) Their impressive and long-lasting healthcare systems have been proven to decrease infant mortality rates, improve the health of the citizens, which increases longevity.
Countries that do not have broad-based governmentally funded health care systems often have health insurance programs that are available to those who can afford the rates, but also have a large population of uninsured citizens which puts the health of the general population at risk of infectious disease. Having a large population of people who are uninsured also increases the insurance premiums which makes insurance even more difficult to afford. One country with this very difficult problem in the United States.
Universal healthcare is typically defined as “a government-sponsored, single-payer system which ensures healthcare coverage for all citizens of a nation regardless of income level or employment status.” (Young) Often, when universal health coverage is spoken of there is the reference to the failed communist form of universal health care in the former Soviet Republic. While this is one example of how a system can fail, we need only look to the current well-maintained, long-standing systems that exist. As early as 1961, Japan had a universal healthcare system in place that provided all citizens in the country with free healthcare and in 1984 Canada passed its Health Act which also ensured all of its citizens with free health care (Mance, 2003). In the majority of the industrialized countries, there is some form of universal health care for the citizens. These countries depend on their workforce to continue to improve their economies and recognize that the health of their workforce is paramount to their increased productivity.
Healthcare is of the utmost importance when discussing the issue of workplace productivity. Productivity is increased when employees are healthy and able to work the vast majority of the fiscal year. For this reason, many employers offer health insurance but employees are at risk of losing it during times of economic hardship. People who have been laid off or fired wind up in the public health system and find it difficult to navigate a new system or that they are ineligible to receive benefits due to their previous income or assets. If this type of system replaced were by a universal or single-payer system there would be no change in health care for people who have lost their income. Losing health care insurance can be a huge issue for people who have small children in need of immunizations and regular doctor visits, who are older in need of geriatric care, or who have chronic health problems.
There are a great many advantages to implementing a universal healthcare system. Some of those advantages include the lack of co-payments and deductibles; all of the health-related needs are financially covered; people who are unemployed or laid off have health coverage; immigrants have necessary health coverage to ensure that foreign contagions are not spread to the general population (Young).
Economically the universal healthcare system is more cost-effective than the private insurance/HMO system. “In a single-payer system, administrative costs are centralized and drastically reduced. It’s cheaper to finance a public health care system through taxes than it is to administer it privately.” (Batista). Without the administrative costs of stockholders in large companies and the salaries needed for executives and staff, much more of the cost of healthcare can go to the patients.
The disadvantages of universal healthcare are nonexistent for the recipients of the care. Such issues would be as simple as an increased waiting period for regular appointments or as far-reaching as an increase in taxpayer contribution by way of sales and income taxes (Young).
The greater disadvantages are those that would affect the health care providers. It is almost certain that the salaries for health care workers would decrease but a universal system would remove the private business aspect from health care, placing it under the care of the government, and reduce the income from health services and products (Young). This may reduce the incentive for some to become health care professionals, but in doing so the people who will continue to pursue such careers would do so with the knowledge that they are doing so for the benefit of the patients rather than themselves. This should result in better health care for the patients provided by people who genuinely want to help patients rather than simply profit from their care.
The healthcare of people in countries with universal healthcare systems tends to be better than in those countries without such a system. An obvious reason for such a tendency is that people can see physicians when a problem begins rather than when it becomes acute and needs emergency treatment. “Countries that have universal healthcare systems in place have a lower infant mortality rate and higher life expectancy than industrialized countries without such systems and non-industrialized countries. For example, Canada has a mean life expectancy of 79.8 years, which is the second-highest life expectancy in the industrialized world. Japan, which has had universal healthcare the longest, has the highest life expectancy at 80.9 years (Mance, 2003).
The crisis in the United States healthcare system is not a health issue, but the fact that people who have health problems cannot afford to have them taken care of medically. A growing population of seniors are unable to afford health insurance at all and are dependent upon an antiquated and underfunded system which results in their having to pay for a large portion of their prescription medications and to keep a handle on their increasing health problems as they age. It has been stated that the United States social security system’s funds are being depleted and maybe completely empty within the very near future. Without these regular payments some seniors will be forced to continue working well past their retirement years. The continued work can result in further health complications and a further deterioration of their health.
In addition to seniors who are facing the health care crisis, are middle-class families who have too great an income to qualify for public health assistance and too little income to finance health insurance and health problems. Many of these families have small children or parents who are beginning to age and need an increased amount of medical support. With a universal system none of these people would be at risk medically and could concentrate their funds on more pressing financial issues like mortgages and bills.
One of the greatest issues with universal healthcare is the financial burden on the government and the taxpayers. In non-universalized healthcare systems a large amount of money goes to administrative costs which include executive salaries, stockholders, and commissions which means that fewer of the dollars paid to insurance companies actually go to the healthcare of the individual (Healthcare for All). With less of the healthcare funds going to the cost of care, the problem of substandard health care crops up.
The current public health system benefits only the very poor, pregnant women and children. This is a start for any health care system, but it is a place where the government has stagnated about providing health care for all citizens. The people most in need are getting the minimal level of care but it is limited by income, age, and health status. The government’s next step toward general health care is to revise the income requirements so that middle-level income people can benefit from programs with minimal co-pay rather than having to fund their entire insurance bill. At the same time, this change would remove the age limit and give care to all age groups and a broader income level (Barton).
Once the benefits are available to all age groups and a broader, if not all, income level the government can implement steps toward regulating the system’s management. Regulations for medical treatment, transfers, referrals, etc. have to be in place so that there are no areas that will suffer from a lack of professionals and no practitioners are abusing the laws or under-treating their patients.
- Barton, P. L. Understanding the U.S. Health Services System 3rd edition
- Batista, John R., McCave Justine. Make Healthcare a Right! It’s Cheaper. Conneticut Coalition. 2005.
- Healthcare for All – California. Healthcare in Crisis. 2005.
- Mance, Saadiq. 2003. Universal Health Care for All Citizens. Emerging Minds.[online] 2005.
- Novelli, W. D. “Transforming the healthcare system a focus on prevention: the U.S. healthcare system can become an effective model that promotes health and prevents disease for all of its citizens”. Healthcare Financial Management. FindArticles.com. 2009.
- Young, Rosalind. Universal Healthcare: An Internet Guide. 2005.