The American Dream is described by The Free Dictionary as, “An American ideal of a happy and successful life to which all may aspire” (“Definition,” 2013, p. 1) yet this can mean different things to different people. To this student it means happiness, prosperity, health, freedom, and the ability to makes choices according to what this student believes in. For other people, the American Dream will mean similar and probably different things. To many Americans the ability to have health care is a part of the American Dream. Obtaining health care insurance and being able to choose the insurance they can afford is part of their own American Dream.
This choice usually comes through their employer or through being self-employed and choosing the appropriate health care insurance. This piece of the American Dream is becoming increasingly expensive and unobtainable. This student will explore current national health care expenditures, is there is too much spent or not enough if cuts need to be made, how health care needs are paid for, and a forecast of the economic needs of the health care system. The level of the current national health care expenditures
Health care costs continue to increase. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), “U.S. health care spending reached $2.7 trillion in 2011, or $8,680 per person. Health spending grew 3.9 percent in 2011, the same rate of growth as in 2009 and 2010” (“2011 Expenditures,” n.d., p. 1). The United States pay the most per person of any other country in the world. The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) is an agency comprised of 34 nations that compare data regarding different economies around the world. Health care expenditures are one area they collect data. According to the data collected from 2010 by the OECD and reported by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), “at 17.6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010, US health spending is on and a half as much as any other country, and nearly twice the OECD average” (Kane, 2012, p. 2). This is staggering to process for most people because the amount of care used or services provided does not seem to match the costs paid out. Spending too much or not enough
Health care spending is a controversial subject in the United States and is currently in the national spotlight with the looming of the Affordable Care Act. In conception, the idea of every American having access to affordable health care is, in this student’s opinion, the right option. Human Health Services says “The Affordable Care Act puts consumers back in charge of their health care. Under the law, a new “Patient’s Bill of Rights” gives the American people the stability and flexibility they need to make informed choices about their health” (“Affordable Care Act,” 2013, p. 1).
The current process and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, in this student’s opinion, is not going to fix or correct the problem of affordable health care for most American’s or companies that provide insurance to their employees. Health care premiums, deductibles, and co-payments for services continue to increase on a yearly basis. Reducing services offered by insurance plans or making services unavailable, even though the consumer is paying more for their premiums, is another way insurance companies are saving money. The discussion of too much or not enough health care spending can also be interpreted by the person who is not using the health insurance they have to its fullest ability or individual who has needs beyond their current health insurance and cannot pay or the care needed or the provided care. National additions or cuts to health care spending
Health care spending is created by several different areas. These areas are broken up in a pie chart by the CMS, sourced by The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation as follows Hospital Care 31.4%, Physician/Clinical Services 19.9%, Prescription Drugs 10.0%, Nursing Care Facilities 5.5%, Home Health Care 2.7%, Other Personal Health Care 14.8%, and Other Health Spending 15.7% (“Information on Health Care Costs,” 2012, p. 16). These areas are critical and needed areas of health care spending. Reducing health care spending seems to be a difficult obstacle to conquer whether on the national level, state level, insurance company level, and even on an individual level. Reductions in health care are needed to keep costs down while maintaining the current level of services and goods needed to maintain care for patients. Costs reductions are made in mental health, prescription drug programs, and services to the disabled.
Adding more to health care spending increases skepticism among people that they are just lining the pockets of the already wealthy corporate level individuals. At the yearly levels of increases of health care costs to be able to maintain insurance, it is no wonder people are leery of continued increases. As the technology of health care evolves and becomes more disease or injury specific the costs of the services increase. Although not every person that has insurance may need to utilize the specialized services, their premiums help cover the costs of the people that do use the services. Paying for the needs of public health care
Medicare and Medicaid are the two largest public health care sources for the elderly, disabled, and uninsured population. The CMS states “Medicare expenditures are estimated to have grown 6.3 percent in 2011 (totaling $557.8 billion), up from 5.0-percent growth in 2010” and “Medicaid spending is estimated to have grown 6.8 percent in 2011 (and to have reached $428.7 billion)” (“Public Health Care Needs,” 2012, p. 1). Private health insurance is another way of paying for health care. The associated costs of health care are offset according to the policy the person has purchased. Private health insurance costs are paid by premiums, deductibles, and co-payments from the insured person. There is also the portion of people who are uninsured and are considered self-pay patients. These uninsured patients represent a large part of unpaid services. Although, not all uninsured patients leave bills to be absorbed by the health care system many do, and this increases the costs of health care to be absorbed in other areas. Forecast of Economic Needs of the Health Care System
The CMS states “In 2014, national health spending is projected to increase to 7.4 percent, or 2.1 percentage-points faster than in the absence of reform as the major coverage expansions from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are expected to result in 22 million fewer uninsured people” (“Public Health Care Needs,” 2012, p. 1). The complexity of health care spending and funding is a hot topic in the federal government, the media, and consumer. In this students experience many patients are aware that changes are coming, but the patients are very opinionated by their like or dislike of the President of the United States. This student has found through daily interactions with patients that there is no faith in the Affordable Care Act, and that health care services are going to be unobtainable because of the increases to their current insurance plans. Addressing health care needs
Demand for services makes us address the rising costs of health care. As the baby boomers age the cost of health care is going to increase because of the continued care baby boomers will need in their later years. The reliance of many of the baby boomers on Medicare and Medicaid will increase the cost of health care. Illegal immigrants use of the health care system increases costs. Healthy young people buying insurance plans will affect the costs of the health care system. There are so many outliers to the costs of health care. It is impossible to grasp the complexity of it all. The needs of health care will always be present. Addressing the needs of health care and appropriate funding for health care, will always be a topic to debate. Financing needs of health care
The future of the Affordable Care Act and health care reform are unknown. The work in progress continues to be how to finance the changes being brought forward. Money is the necessary agent to make this reform possible and where to get that money from is the big question everyone is trying to figure out. Federal programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children’s Health Insurance Program need to develop. Tax credits for offering or acquiring private coverage need to expand. The immediate move to help finance the future needs of health care is to reduce the amount of unnecessary spending in current public programs. Excessive spending by programs funded by the federal government is a huge problem. Starting from within the programs already established should be a priority. Conclusion
In conclusion, the United States spends more on health care than any other country in the world. There is a continual debate about whether more funding needs to be added to or reduced from the current costs of health care. Federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid need to help with the reduction of costs for unnecessary medical treatment. The Affordable Care Act was created to help ensure that all Americans have access to health care. The premise of financing the health care reform is to enroll healthy, young people who will not incur health care charges to offset the charges from the elderly and disabled. There is a lot of debate about how to implement the changes in health care and currently not a lot of solutions are being offered.
About the Law. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/rights/ American Dream. (2013). In American dream (4th ed.). Retrieved from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/American+dream Health Care Costs: A Primer. (2012). Retrieved from http://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/7670-03.pdf Kane, J. (2012, October 22, 2012). Health Costs: How the U.S. Compares With Other Countries. PBS News Hour. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/10/health-costs-how-the-us-compares-with-other-countries.html National Health Expenditure Projections 2011-2021. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/NationalHealthExpendData/Downloads/Proj2011PDF.pdf National Health Expenditures 2011 Highlights. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/NationalHealthExpendData/downloads/highlights.pdf