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Affordabilityproblems in the U.S Healthcare system
TheU.S healthcare system is marred by a series of issues and challengesthat make it one of the most unaffordable healthcare systems aroundthe world. According to a report released on the world’s top tenindustrialized countries around the world, the U.S, unfortunately,was ranked as last one. The U.S was ranked last on it healthcaresystem survey conducted in early 2014 due to its expensive andineffective healthcare program when compared to the other ninenations. For instance, the U.S health cost per capita stood at $8,508while the second most expensive country health cost per capita wasrecorded at $5,699 in Norway. In addition, despite reforms andconcerted efforts conducted to improve the healthcare system in theU.S between 2004 and 2014, the U.S never moved up and maintained itsunimpressive position(Bernstein).While it is obvious that the U.S health care system is one of themost expensive and most unaffordable healthcare systems in the world,several problems or issues have emerged in an effort to explain this.Some of the problems revolve around several issues in the U.Shealthcare system. For instance, there is a lot of unnecessary carein the system that amounts to billions of dollars. American patientsare also subjected to harm when admitted to hospitals which add morehealth cost at the end of the day while there is a lot of moneyrunning in the billions that is wasted in healthcare system just tomention a few(Binder).In this essay, the author will delve into the subject of problemsthat affect the U.S healthcare system making it the most expensiveand least affordable healthcare systems around the world. The essaywill evaluate alternative solution and offer theirsolution towardsthe end of the discussion, since not all hope is lost in the U.Shealth care system.
TheU.S has one the most expensive and ineffective health care systems inthe world. It is estimated that the U.S spends over $2.2 trillion ayear on its health budget and a third of this amount which is about$750 billion goes to waste. Health care has proved to be one of themost serious economic challenges facing the U.S as most Americanstruggle to access health care as insurance premium keep onincreasing every year. In 2012 for instance, about half of the U.Spopulation did not have access to insurance for the entire year. Thisstatistic covered about 85 million U.S citizens between the ages of19 and 64. In addition, another 16% of the population or at least 50million Americans were underinsured or at least struggled to haveinsurance for the whole of the year. The insurance premiums paid byindividuals in the U.S had increased by 30% between the years 2005and 2001 while income between these years had only surged by 3%.Despite the U.S spending the most money of the country’s GDP onhealth care, the U.S still has one of the worst health care systemsaround the world. The U.S usually spends about 15.3% of the country’sGDP on healthcare, which is almost more than the total amount spentby the top ten developed countries in the world. Switzerland which issecond on the list on GDP expenditure spends 11.6% of its GDP onhealth care (Healthcare Problems).
TheU.S healthcare system is one of the most expensive and ineffectivehealthcare systems because of several reasons that have been proposedby experts in the health profession. According to Dr. Mercola, thereare ten ways the health care system in America has failed. In thisessay, a few of the ten major failures will be addressed in anattempt to explain how they contribute to the cost and affordabilityof U.S health care. One of the major reasons why U.S health care isexpensive and unaffordable is because at least half of medicalprocedures do not add value to the patients and in most cases end upharming them. According to a report on medical treatment conducted inthe U.S, 40% of the health care facilities have reversed theirpractice, 38% of the healthcare facilities have reaffirmed theprocedures while rest of the facilities were not conclusive about themedical practices. This means that up to 78% of the medical practicessuch as tests, procedures and treatments do not benefit the patientsthus leading to more costs on health care. In fact, most therapiesstill continue to be conducted by health facilities long after theyare deemed to be ineffective or harmful to the patients (Mercola).
Secondly,the U.S health care system has been deemed to be very expensive orcostly but lack on effectiveness. The U.S has one of the largestbudgets allocated to healthcare with boosting figures around 15.3% ofthe country’s GDP. In comparison, the U.S spends more money onhealthcare than the 10 largest budgets in the world on healthcare. Inother words, the United State spends more on healthcare than thetotal budget of Germany, France, U.K, Italy, China, Spain, Brazil,Australia, Japan and Canada and still the U.S does still lags behindon its health care budget efficiency. It is estimated that the U.Slosses every 30 cents of every dollar put aside for healthcare in thecountry. This amount can translate to $ 750 billion lost annuallywhich is more than what the Iraqi war cost the U.S. The losses in thehealthcare industry can be attributed to excesses in administrativecosts, inefficiencies in the delivery of health care, inflated priceson products and the pharmaceutical industry is deemed to the largestdefrauder of the U.S government and failure to put in placeprevention mechanism have contributed significantly in hiking thecost of health care in the country. This leads to patients havingdifficulties in paying medical bills with nearly two thirds of thepatients filing for bankruptcy due to lack of insurance or beinguninsured. In addition, there seems to be loss of data on patients inhealth facilities. For example, it is estimated that about a third ofall lab tests conducted are reordered since the results cannot betraced. About 70% of all specialists never receive adequateinformation on their patients from their primary care providers andmore interestingly 7,000 patients in the U.S die annually as resultof their physicians poor handwriting (Mercola).
Italso turns out the most American lose their lives as a result ofmedical errors. In fact, the rate of deaths as a result of medicalerrors accounts for higher figures than the deaths reported due toheart cancer and heart diseases. Reports show that the medical errorsaccount for more than 1,000 people a day in U.S health carefacilities(Mercola).The medical errors reported in hospitals range from infectionsacquired in hospitals, inappropriate medical treatments which lead tocomplications, adverse drug reactions and unnecessary surgeries. Insome cases, wrong body parts and the wrong patients have been treatedin U.S hospitals leading to a total of 250,000 deaths recorded eachyear due to medical mistakes.
Thehealth care sector is suffering from a shortage of doctors in healthfacilities. According to Sanjay, the U.S has a shortage of doctorsrunning in the tens of thousands(Sanjay).This shortage could cause a strain on the demand for doctors and thiscould only translate to more health care costs for the patients asthey have to wait in line to get access to trained physicians.Additionally, most American families do not have a primary healthcare provider who knows about their family medical history. In theU.S it is estimated that there are 2,000 people for every primarycare provider, which is relatively higher compared to other developednations. Such high numbers can have negative consequences on thequality of care received by patients and might lead to medical errorsas stated earlier.
Therehave been several proposals put forward to address the issue ofhealthcare costs in the U.S. One of the proposals put forward wasinitiated by the incumbent President of the U.S, Barrack Obamathorough the affordable health care act or what is common known asthe Obama care. The act seeks to include the over 30 million who didnot have access to health care facilities to due lack of insurance.The health care act was supposed to address issue regardingbankruptcy as a result of not being able to afford the high costs ofhealth care in the country. In addition, the act was supposed to helpthe government bring down the health cost related to some illnesssuch the elimination of pre-existing conditions related with chronicillnesses. The affordable health care act seeks to include allAmericans in the insurance health plans irrespective of theirillness. However, some experts suggest that this alternative can onlymake things worse rather than better. This is because it does not fixthe short comings of the healthcare system. The U.S health caresystem is built on the premise of making profits and the affordablehealth care act does not offer a solution towards the affordabilityof the healthcare costs. This alternative advances the treatmentphilosophy of the U.S health care system and opposed to having apreventive care based health care system in the country.
Thesecond alternative would be to embrace a socialized healthcare systemin the U.S. This healthcare method is used by many countries inEurope and seems to be working efficiently. European countries suchas the U.K, Germany and France have adopted a socialized healthcaresystem for its citizens where the government is fully responsible forproviding healthcare facilities to its citizens. In turn, this hasbrought down the cost of health care in the countries like the U.Kwhich have the lowest health care cost in the world. The cost ofhealth care per person in the U.K is $3405 compared to $8508 in theU.S which is a significant $5,000 difference between the two healthcare systems (Bernstein).Socialized healthcare systems ensure that their populations have auniversal healthcare system which is subsidized by the governmenttherefore cutting costs. The implementation of a government regulatedhealth care insurance system in the U.S would cut the unnecessarycosts associated with HMO’s in the U.S since all the costs aretaken care of by the insurance companies. This would not however bethe case if the government intervened as it would not watch losingmoney to HMO’s.
Inmy opinion, an overhaul of the entire U.S healthcare system would bein order. The U.S health care system problems cannot be solved byjust increasing the number of people who have access to insurancejust like the affordable care act seeks to establish for over 50million Americans (Bernstein).Rather the affordability of the U.S health care system can beaddressed by adopting different ways of doing things. For instance,according to the research one of the most pressing issues of thehealth care system in the U.S was a lack of primary care provider.Primary care providers do a good job of keeping records of the familyhistory which goes a long way in arresting health care conditionsbefore they occur. In other words, I am for the opinion of adoptingpreventing health care rather than curing illness which is thephilosophy engrained in the U.S health care system. Its often said,prevention is better than cure and the best way to cut costs relatedto health care would be in preventing them rather than curing them.At the end of the day, the nation would be healthier and more moneywill be saved by preventing chronic illness which most American spendmost of their money on.
Inconclusion, the healthcare issue in the U.S requires the concertedefforts of all health professionals and insurance companies if anyprogress is going to be realized. Healthcare system from the US isone of the most expensive and ineffective healthcare systems. This isdue to the several reasons that have been proposed by experts in thehealth profession. It is clear that, there is a lot of unnecessarycare in the system that amounts to billions of dollars. Patients fromthe US are also subjected to harm when admitted to hospitals whichadd more health cost at the end of the day while there is a lot ofmoney running in the billions wasted in healthcare system among otheravenues. There are notable proposals put forward to address theissue of healthcare costs in the U.S. One of the proposals asindicated above was initiated by the incumbent President of the U.S,Barrack Obama thorough the affordable health care act or what iscommon known as the Obama care. This notable act seeks to include theover 30 million who did not have access to health care facilities todue lack of insurance
Itis possible to lower the health costs in the U.S by ensuring thathealth care facilities are accountable and avoid any wastage ofresources. The U.S health care system needs a facet of solutions toaddress the many problems associated with the health care system inthe country.
Bernstein,Lenny. Onceagain, U.S. has most expensive, least effective health care system insurvey.16 June 2014. 3 April 2015<http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/06/16/once-again-u-s-has-most-expensive-least-effective-health-care-system-in-survey/>.
Binder,Leah. TheFive Biggest Problems In Health Care Today.21 February 2013. 3 April 2015<http://www.forbes.com/sites/leahbinder/2013/02/21/the-five-biggest-problems-in-health-care-today/>.
Healthcare Problems. Healthcare Statistics.2015. 3 April 2015<http://www.healthcareproblems.org/health-care-statistics.htm>.
Mercola,Joseph. TopTen Ways the American Health Care System Fails.15 March 2014. 3 April 2015<http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/03/15/bad-american-health-care-system.aspx>.
Sanjay,Gupta. America`s9 biggest health issues.5 January 2015. 3 April 2015<http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/02/opinion/gupta-health-challenges-2015/>.