In the United States of America, both the private and public sectors provide healthcare. Most healthcare facilities, for example, are provided by private entities whereas the federal government does the provision of health insurance in the public sector.
According to the US census bureau, 16.7 per cent of the population was uninsured in the year 2009. This uninsured population, it posits, consist of about 50.7 million residents, 9.9 million of whom are non-citizens. This figures show that more of the population cannot access the healthcare. On the other hand, the current healthcare policy is expensive and regarded as a main source of bankruptcies in the whole country.
Romano (2001) posits that the US healthcare industry is in shambles, reeling from issues such as medical mistakes, disgruntled employees, limited resources, high costs and low confidence. Therefore, this points not to failures in the sector, but to substantive failure of the healthcare policy, which has then sent the healthcare sector to the ICU.
Examples of the problems that have been identified within the healthcare policy include rising of funds, to finance healthcare and streamlining private and public sectors’ mandate in the provision of healthcare services. In addition, the amount of tax that the US citizens should be levied upon towards financing of healthcare policy, social impacts of the policy to the US citizens and residents, reduction of the high cost that have made accessibility of healthcare impossible to many and finally reduction of government debts and deficits in the process of provision of these services.
Brief Overview of Issue Area
Healthcare provision in the United States is done by a combination of both public and the private players. According to Patel (2006), healthcare systems differ with respect to the role of government, and how healthcare is delivered and financed. Despite the fact that both the public and private sectors do fund healthcare in the United States, it is still predominantly funded by the private sector. In the privately funded healthcare, workers and their dependants are covered by privately paid for insurance covers paid for by their employers. The government on its part provides care mainly for groups, for example, the disabled, the elderly, the poor, veterans and children through programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Veterans Health Administration. On the other hand, Medicare and Medicaid are programs formed by the government and have been in place since the year 1965. Federal government runs Medicare, and it aims at serving the elderly individuals who are older than sixty-five years, while the federal government and respective states jointly run the medicaid program.
In 2007, an estimated 2.3 trillion dollars went to health care. Moreso, health care cost is always on the upward trend. The $432 billion used up on Medicare in 2007 was more than 3 % of the U.S. GDP. The high cost of healthcare renders the current healthcare policy in the United States too expensive for the individual citizen and the government too.
The AAOS also raises the issue of physician reimbursement in the Medicare and Medicaid programs as flaws within the current healthcare program. It cites the introduction of the fee-for-service model by Medicare as detrimental to physician reimbursement whereby they are faced by unnecessary annual deductions.
Overview of Existing Policy/ Policy Discussions
The United States has been at its best when it comes to policy implementation, in different sectors. However, owing to the global economic crisis, it has failed to implement, among others, the healthcare policies. Among the reasons been high capital required for the implementation of the same. Proper guidelines for the implementation of a sound healthcare policy in the United States are urgently needed. This is because the health of a nation’s people is significant especially in a democratic nation.
An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found out that, employer-sponsored health coverage for family premiums have increased by 113 per cent since 2001, placing increasing cost burdens on employers and workers Medicare, however, covers the elderly and the disabled while Medicaid provides coverage to families with a low income. The Foundation indicates that people enrolling for Medicare- the elderly-has grown due to aging of quite a number of people and in Medicaid owing to recession. This shows that government spending on healthcare has increased.
Among the factors responsible for massive healthcare spending in the USA are high costs of administration, technology and prescription drugs, and a rise in chronic diseases. Over a long time, new technologies in medicine, as well as prescription drugs have been known to increase spending in health immensely. Professionals and analysts believe that prescription drugs and new medical technologies do fuel the cost of healthcare spending.
Chronic diseases and longer life spans have put pressure on healthcare spending. Particularly, overweight and obesity have been cited to contribute towards chronic illnesses and; thus, the need to spend in finding ways of prevention of the said diseases and subsequently avert high healthcare spending.
Pros and Cons of Existing Policy
The healthcare policy of the United States has a number of strengths and weaknesses too. For instance, the United States health care system has come under criticism for lacking a universal healthcare system. Some laws do make it mandatory, for some types of medical care to the uninsured are provided, which is a positive thing, but others seeking service and not the society take the costs here. It is only for the communicable diseases that has a far-reaching social benefit and is a magnificent turn.
The private sector orientation firstly offers some advantages of increasing levels of new medical solutions and innovations in healthcare (McKenzie et al, 2008). This is fostered by the strong protection of private investors in the healthcare system. However, a major disadvantage of the healthcare system has been its extremely high costs. The cost of the health care system has resulted to large amounts of taxes going to payment of healthcare while raising the risk of increasing levels of government debts and deficits. Such funds that are used for healthcare could also be utilized in growing economy and meeting other society needs.
In the United States, citizens enjoy a wide choice of medical care providers. The growth of HMO's in the United States necessitates that there be approval of a primary care physician before seeking specialized treatment. This system frustrates to patients but can also serve to save resources of costly medical care if the primary physician finds it unnecessary.
With regard to physician reimbursement in the States, doctors are relatively well paid in comparison to other countries. This is because, unlike other countries, such as France, there is no standardized billing. Instead, doctors/physicians negotiate with insurance companies.
New Healthcare Policy
The cost of the present healthcare system is one of the considerable flaws it has. Thus, this policy proposes that the best way to minimize the heath care cost is to make the government subsidize the heath care by lowering the cost of assessing health services and increase the price of more consumed goods so that the funds raised were used to lower the cost of these services.
An effective healthcare needs adequate funding, and the present healthcare system is not effective because it does not enjoy enough financing. One of the alternatives is to allocate a large percentage of funds for health care and cut some of the expenses so that it made possible to implement the policy. This alternative will make the system more manageable and thus move towards efficiency.
Another alternative to the healthcare funding issue is for the government to impose high tax rates on goods and services, which are not extremely profitable, and the funds collected should be redirected towards heath care funding. International finance may be another alternative whereby the Federal Government should seek to obtain financial support from World Bank and other financial institutions for financial aid to assist in implementation of heath care policy without taking loans from external and internal financial institutions.
Still on the issue of cost reduction, this new policy proposes that the government should come up with innovative ways of promoting manufacturing industries that produce medicine and other health facilities so that the cost of producing these facilities is cheaper, hence making it possible to all citizens to access the services at low cost.
The issue of tax has been a significant concern for many USA politicians and citizens because they feel that the tax they pay for these services is too high and; hence, the disposable income is too low making the cost of living high. The government should set up tax laws, which will be neutral to both the high-income earners and low-income earners.
Recommendations about Why This Policy Should Be Adopted and What Weaknesses in Existing Policy It Addresses
This new policy addresses the flaws that abound in the current healthcare system. It takes into consideration the aspects of funding which has been quite a considerable issue. Its proposition with regard to funding of the proposed policy is set towards attaining efficient policy status. Management of costs is another shortcoming in the current healthcare system that has been adequately addressed in this proposed new policy. It proposes clear-cut ways of managing costs, which if implemented will ensure a perfect healthcare system.
This policy proposes amendments to tax laws that are not punitive but are instead fair to all. This will ensure that individual citizens do not find the tax too high for them to afford healthcare. It also calls on the government, to put into place innovative measures, to curb high costs of healthcare through local production of medicine and medical facilities. It also urges the government to subsidize where possible to ease pressure from its citizen.
Notably, healthcare policy is an issue that demands attention and coordination from both parties whether in private or public sector. Recent history shows that healthcare policy cannot be successful if the policy implementation is poor. This means that all sectors in the US healthcare should come together and guarantee fair access to healthcare without problems arising. The sector needs a lot for it to function in a proper manner. The Federal Government should also strive to come up with means of implementing the policy.
The federal government has and must adopt a balanced budget and save adequate cash to deal with the issue of the ever-rising needs. The government should also train policy makers and managers with a vision to make the policy a success story. It will also help if the Federal Government ceases from increasing the tax on its citizens towards the heath care; instead, they should look for other means. This is due to the fact that healthcare is a sector that significantly affects an average US citizen. The key point is that, most citizens’ income is usually taxed as contribution to the running of healthcare services and other programs such as Medicaid.