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United States Health Care System Essay Sample

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Introduction of TOPIC

Introduction

There has been a lot of politics revolving around the health care system such that the citizens are not well informed about the entire concept. Even as the program has received so much favor from other industrialized nations, United States remains the only industrialized nation devoid of universal health care (McKenzie 1990). This is not to say that the system is of little benefit to the people but quite the opposite. Health is of vital importance to the citizens of a country. In fact with the universal health care system it means that the federal government cares for the well being of the citizens more so the poor who cannot afford the expensive health care insurance.

Bill Clinton rose to the highest political office partly as a result of the promise he made concerning healthcare reforms. His efforts were however to be frustrated by some politicians, and other lobby groups. The end result was a complete distraction of the issue from being the top in the national agenda. The public support that the Clinton administration enjoyed was therefore short run. This unsuccessful attempt can be pegged on the persistent campaign from the insurance companies.

The argument against the universal health system is that it is likely to compromise with the standards of the medical service, will be open for misuse and make a greater fraction of the population quite dependant on the other. This nevertheless cannot be true as the major concern is the children and those who are less privileged in the society (Watson 1994). It would be unfair for the government to assume that everyone is capable of meeting the costs of health care when the opposite is true. At the moment the U.S health care is experiencing a lot of problems the prime one being inefficiency.  Studies indicate that over half of the service delivered is sub-standard. Similarly there is an enormous portion of the funds channeled towards administration of the insurance companies. Much is spend in the salaries of executives, dividends with only a small amount being reserved for health care.

Moreover, there are millions of Americans who are either uninsured or underinsured. According to a recent survey in the United States lack of insurance has been ranked among the top ten leading causes of death (Huskamp and Blumenthal 2003).  Many people have been left with no choice as the insurance covers only a few of the patients that are deemed to be too risky. In addition out of the total bankruptcy cases in the U.S half are as a result of medical bills.  This is despite the continued profits that are being made by the insurance companies.

Even so there has been a recorded trend whereby more hospitals, trauma centers and emergency rooms are facing closure. The logic is that the sick people most of whom are poor are unable to afford the expensive health care leaving it to the few rich and healthy persons. It is for this reasons that the national health care system for the United State will be a welcome idea as it will help address some of these problems.

Current Health Care and Problems

There are many complaints regarding the healthcare system in the United States. These problems have continued to plague the American public for quite along time. The current health care is selective; meant to serve the few persons that are rich and can easily afford the high premiums being charged by the insurance companies. The majority of the sick persons are poor and scarcely able to afford the high premiums (Baer 1999). They are therefore forced either to boycott medical services or to overspent on the same thus leading to bankruptcy. According to some analysts the major problem with the current system is that it can be categorized as neither a free market nor a single-payer plan (Blumenthal and Hawkins 1993). The system is a restricted market whereby the firms in the insurance industry have left the consumers with no choice regarding the available alternatives. This difficulty arises due to the impossibility of the consumer to switch plans (McKenzie 1990).  It is because of the restrictions in the market that has made the present system far from being equated to a free market. However a free market is not a panacea in the America society. There are many problems which would demand a full involvement of the government.

Health care has become one of the major economic and social problems facing the American people.  This problem has come to embrace not only those that are uninsured but also those that are insured. Statistics point to the fact that almost 50 million Americans are uninsured with those that are underinsured standing at 25 million Americans. Between the years 2001 to 2005 the amount to be remitted at the health insurance had a 30 per cent increase (Health Care Problems.Org 2008). This according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation compares badly with the 3 per cent increase in incomes over the same period.

The annual health insurance plan for a typical family costs not less than $ 12,000. On a national scale as much as the federal government budget stands at $ 3 trillion annually, the expenditures from the health care have been shown to exceed $ 2 trillion a year. The commonwealth Fund conducted a study revealing shocking results about the status of the underinsured in America. Most of the underinsured persons are facing rising costs of premiums, co-payments and deductibles. This class of people has grown by 60 per cent in a period of less than five years. This problem was worst among the upper and middle income families. In general there was at least 11 per cent increase in the rate of the underinsured among those with incomes above $ 40,000 and a further 31 per cent rate among families below the poverty level.

The study further showed that adults finding it difficult to pay their bills stand at 45 per cent of the population. This is despite the health insurance. Most of them have to find alternative ways to help meet there medical bills including a change in lifestyle. These medical expenses are said to account for close to 50 per cent of the personal bankruptcies. Similarly a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates almost 30 per cent of the families with incomes ranging from $30,000 to $ 75,000 are facing serious problems meeting health insurance (Health Care Problems.Org 2008).

It has therefore been the opinion of most Americans for the need for reforms in the health care system. At the present time the health care seem not to be working as the system is driven by corporations that are hungry for profits. The benefits of the health insurance are also largely in favor of those in employment. It has therefore emerged that majority of Americans base their decisions on whether or not to take on a new job depending on attractiveness of the health benefits.

Moreover the amount recommended for retirees is vastly overrated. To cover their healthcare cost a couple is required to pay $ 635,000. This money has been estimated to be sufficient to cater for the health expenditure of the couple well above what is being offered by the Medicare covers.

Despite being an industrialized country the United States has no provision for a universal health care for its citizens. This fact

is gradually making the U.S to become one of the worst health care systems worldwide. Interestingly

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the expenditure by the United States government is among the highest in the world. Compared to one of the best health care system in the world the American system appears to be badly flawed.  For instance the health care system in Taiwan accounts for roughly 8 per cent of the GNP. The system allows for alternatives and the health care facilities are highly accessible. The same is also true of Great Britain whereby all citizens are guaranteed coverage by the government. This is made possible with only 6 per cent health care expenditure on the economy. Nevertheless the United Kingdom is ranked position 18 by the World Health Organization out of 191 enlisted countries.  On the contrary the health care system of the United States expends 16 per cent of the GNP yet it is ranked at position 37 just ahead of Cuba (Health Care Problems.Org 2008). This follows the fact that a total of 48 million Americans are not insured with a further 25 million being underinsured.

There are people who fail to distinguish between Medicare and Medicaid. The former program is meant for some people with disabilities and those who have attained age 65 and above. With coverage of almost 40 million Americans the program is the largest of the nation’s health insurance program. Medicaid on the other hand covers the disabled, the poor and the elderly. It is voluntary and provided in conjunction between the states and the federal government. The latter provides strict guidelines for the states that have offered to participate in the program.

At the moment there is a crisis in funding of the Medicaid program. This is due to a number of reasons which include the continued rise in the costs of drugs, increase in the numbers of individuals in need of health coverage and also the rise in demand of long-term care. This crisis in the funding of the institutions has led to closure or reduction of the health programs. Similarly the eligibility for the programs which had been loosened during the lucrative years to include the working poor has faced adjustments such that strict guidelines are adhered to.

Clinton bill – Overview and Provision

In the presidential election of 1992 the presidential candidate Bill Clinton based his campaign on health care. The Clinton administration had taken the matter so seriously that it was to become an agenda for the first term. A year later in 1993 the president was to show his personal commitment to providing a universal health care system by assigning the first lady with the role of heading a task force that was to draw a detailed plan ensuring all American have access to health care. The same year in September president Bill Clinton delivered a well applauded speech that addressed the difficulties that most Americans are experiencing in accessing the health care. The issues that the president addressed far back in 1993 are still the same ones that continue to plague the American people. This is especially so with the working poor, children and the middle wage earners. The medical bills are constantly on the increase, but not in proportion to the increase in income. It has therefore resulted to a situation whereby the uninsured and the underinsured persons in the United States have increased tremendously.

Another interesting aspect of the speech is the mention of the government expenditure on health care. The United States cannot be compared to any other country on the globe when considering the budget allocation on providing for health care. There had been much opposition to the program more so from the health insurance industry and the conservatives. The advertisements that were run in the media more so under the sponsorship of the health insurance industry ensured that Clinton’s proposal was defeated. This however was a major attempt on the part of the United States government to address the problem of health care system for the citizens.

Reasons for Nationalized Health Care

There is no reason whatsoever for the United States government to continue to spend a huge amount of money on health care yet a significant number of the population continue to suffer and die prematurely because of high medical bills. In providing a universal health care system the United States government will not have done anything out of the ordinary. In fact it ought to have borrowed a leaf from the rest of the industrialized nations. This has not happened because of politics, economics and social factors in the country.

Germany had been for a long period of time an enemy of the United States but happened to be the first to come up with the universal health care program. For the U.S to have a similar program was perceived by some proponents as recognizing the might of an enemy. This is however not true as there are many other countries that have supported the same program and are not necessarily tied to Germany.

It is contrary to human rights for the United States to deny it citizens’ access to health care (Chapman 1993). The U.S being a democratic country and a model to the world should be able to set a good example to the rest of the world more so pertaining to safeguarding human rights. The government cannot continue to preach of human rights violations in other countries when the problem has not been combated at home. The citizens need to be protected such that they are not exploited by the profit driven insurance companies.

When the citizens are healthy and medically fit they will be able to work efficiently. This will in turn boost the economy of the country. The rising cost of health care in the recent past has seen many Americans joining the category of the underinsured persons (Anderson and Waters 2005). The mobility of labor has also been compromised with most of the workers preferring to stick to a particular employer due to the benefits. There is the fear that if the job is changed or a person simply shifts to self employment then the health insurance will be lost. Many people are also in favor of the idea of first scrutinizing health care benefits before they finally accept a job on offer.

This universal health system will help to reduce the prices of products in the United States. At the present time the cost of manufactured products is higher in the United States compared to other countries that have a universal health system. This is because in the U.S the insurance cover of the workers is included under the cost of producing a particular commodity (Kofman and Pollitz 2006). This cost is later transferred to the final consumer of the product through the high prices. Similarly since the cost of production for a good will be reduced, the commodity will become affordable thus effectively compete in the global market.

There are many people in the United States with chronic diseases yet they have forgone treatment due to the expenses that one is likely to incur. This means that if the universal health care system is to be instituted then most of these citizens who continue to suffer will be able to gain access to medical care.

Similarly the health care system in the United States has been criticized for the high administrative costs that result from high salaries given to the top executives of the companies and other overhead costs. The figures for the U.S system have proved to be higher compared to other countries. According to one of the estimates it has been quoted as being 24 per cent of the health care expenditure (Kofman and Pollitz 2006). This heavy expenditure on the administration compromises on the services that are offered in the health care facilities. A universal health care system will therefore help to reduce these costs as it would assist to save the amount allotted to paperwork and overhead expenditures. This amount has been estimated to be $286.

The health insurance companies in the United States are driven by profits. This has greatly compromised on efficiency and has increased the cost of health care. Universal health care system will ensure that doctors are not simply guaranteed of patients due to membership. At the end of the whole there will be competition which will ensure quality services being offered by the health facilities.

The universal health system would help the government to reduce its expenditure on taxes. This is because the governments that have the system in place have been known to spend less on an individual’s health care (Anderson and Waters 2005). For instance the government of France expends $569 less compared to the United States. Since the government will cut on its spending and reduce on the amount of taxation, this will in turn earn the support of the conservatives and the Libertarians.

Conclusion

There are many arguments that have been put across in opposition to the universal health care. There are concerns that the program will lower the standards of health care, likely to be abused and may result to the increase on the income taxes. This however cannot be compared to the benefits of the program. Already all the industrialized nations have the program in place, it costs the governments of these countries less money and has proved to be very efficient. Similarly there is nothing precious in the world than saving the life of an individual. The universal health care system will enable the majority citizens to access medical services thus cutting on the number of bankruptcy cases and early death. It is for these reasons that the universal health care system should be adopted by the United States government..

References 

Schoen C., Osborn R., Huynh P., Doty M., Zapert K., Peugh J & Karen (2005).

Taking the Pulse of Health Care Systems: Experiences of Patients with Health Problems in Six Countries.

Anderson G., Hussey P., Bianca K. Frogner & Waters, H. (2005). Health Spending in the United States and the Rest of the Industrialized World. Health Affairs, Vol. 24(4) p. 903–914.

Health Care Problems.Org. (2008). Health Care Statistics. Retrieved on April 20, 2009 from http://www.healthcareproblems.org/health-care-statistics.htm

Kofman M & Pollitz, K. (2006). Health Insurance Regulation by States and Federal Government: A Review of Current Approaches and Proposals for Change. Washington: Georgetown University. Retrieved on April 21, 2009 from http://www.allhealth.org/

Baer, H. (1999). The American Dominative Medical System as a Reflection of Social Relations in the Larger Society. Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 28(11) p.1103-1112.

Blumenthal, D., Lukomnik J & Hawkins D (1993). A Proposal to Provide Care to the Uninsured through a Network of Community Health Centers. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 4(3):272-286.

Chapman, A. (1993). Exploring a Human Rights Approach to Health Care Reform. AAAS, Washington, DC.

McKenzie, N ed. (1990). The Crisis in Health Care. Ethical Issues. Meridian Books, NY.

Watson, S. (1994). Minority access and health reform: a civil right to health care. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Vol. 22(2) p. 127-37.

Huskamp H, Epstein A & Blumenthal D. (2003). The Impact of a National Prescription Drug Formulary on Prices, Market Share, and Spending: Lessons for Medicare? Health Affairs Vol. 22(1) p. 149 – 158.

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