Impacts of Healthcare Reforms in the United States – Health System Example

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"Impacts of Healthcare Reforms in the United States" is a wonderful example of a paper on the health system. Health care in the United States has been a hot topic in most debates for decades now. With some population still living under poor conditions, health insurance policies have been hard to implement on the national scale. The large population that is still not under any health insurance scheme has proven to be a great challenge for efforts to reform the health care systems in the United States. Among this population are children under the age of 18 who don’ t have health coverage (Daschle, Lambrew & Greenberger, 2009). It is not only the poor and the young alone who lack health coverage, but also the adult population too; especially those who are not working.

Some people in the working sector also lack health care coverage because their jobs do not offer insurance benefits. Some of these citizens do not lack health care by choice. Most of them are just ineligible for the national insurance programs while others cannot afford it. The debate surrounding health care systems and reforms in the United States has been one surrounded by economic and political sentiments.   The implementation and feasibility of reforms in the health care sector have been faced with several moral and ethical considerations.

Health care is a basic human right if the resolution made by the International Labor Organization is anything to go by. This resolution is well echoed by the United Nations which considers medical care and health as necessary human rights (Halvorson, 2007). Of the many issues that surround health care reforms, the cost is most prominent of them.   The United States spends trillions of dollars on health care every year.

In 2001, for example, the U. S government spent almost 15% of its GDP on health care. Presently, this figure has increased to estimates of 18% of GDP. This is considered a high cost for the maintenance of health care services, and this has pushed for the call of reforms in the health sector.   One of the suggested systems to govern healthcare in the United States is the single-payer system. This type of system involves mandatory payment of fees for services by American citizens.

The fees are then paid through the federal authorities to provide health coverage to all. Proponents of this system argue that the long-term benefits involved eventually balance the cost incurred although there are tax levies involved. They say that the efficiency that is achieved by the success of the system justifies the system’ s initial costs. Critics, however, view the scheme as one which is more expensive than other alternatives such as the free-market system. They argue that the tax burden is too much for the citizens to handle considering other taxes that they have to pay Reforms in the health care sector of the United States have, therefore, come a long way.

Medicare, for example, was enacted in 1965 and covered American citizen for both general and hospital insurance (Harrington & Crawford, 2004). This scheme was paid for by federal tax from senior citizens. Later in 1985, employees who had left employment were given an opportunity to have health insurance after the ERISA act was amended. Another reform followed later in the year 1997 when the federal government introduced a health insurance program to cover children who live below the federal poverty line.

This was established to cater to children’ s health, which had noticeably been overlooked for a long time (Jacobs, & Skocpol, 2010). When Barack Obama became president for the United States, he introduced a comprehensive health care system aimed at providing health insurance services to American citizens at an affordable cost. This scheme was planned to do away with some unscrupulous practices which were supposedly done by some insurance firms. Among other benefits aimed by the new reforms, insurance premiums were subsidized significantly, and the Medicaid scheme was expanded to about 133% of the federal poverty level. The reformed structure also incorporates future prospects for the health care sector where there are proposed and prospected policies for years to come.

For example, insurers will not be allowed to deny citizens insurance cover by the year 2014. The law will also prohibit such insurers from imposing unnecessary conditions to citizens. Such conditions may include high payments and insurance premiums. The habit by most insurance firms to differentiate risk and favour low-risk clients while avoiding the high-risk ones has also been put under check by these reforms.

This was seen as a profit-seeking a practice where the insurance firms viewed those individuals likely to fall sick or unhealthy as less profitable (Harrington & Crawford, 2004). Individuals who do not have health insurance cover will also be required by the law to purchase insurance which is approved by the government. This reform is set to be fully implemented by 2014. This is an effort to have every citizen secured under health insurance covers hence significantly reducing the number of uninsured people from the current 19%.

Reforms brought about by the 2010 act on health insurance have seen some insurance schemes deemed inadequate. This is because the Act requires all the insurers to cover most of the costs on improving medical care (Daschle, Lambrew & Greenberger, 2009). The firms are also required to provide full coverage for immunizations and screening of the patients. The expansion of insurance coverage is viewed by many as a catalyst for better health.

There are, however, others who think otherwise. This opponent lot holds onto the fact that there are patients who die of infections resulting from medical treatment. Another factor that drives reforms in the health sector is the need to completely reduce the budget deficit in the United States. There was also the need to eliminate overpayment that was rampant in the health insurance sector in previous years. During the Bush presidency, health care insurance overpayments were estimated to be in excess of 12 billion dollars a year. It is, therefore, logical for health reforms to be put in place to ensure such excesses are put under check.

This would result in more savings for the government and citizens. The main aim for implementation of health care reforms in the United States is to make health insurance affordable and available to everyone in the country. Employers too are bound to take responsibility for the provision of health insurance policies to their employees. This would protect the employed lot from exploitation and ignorance by the employers on their (employee’ s) health matters. The middle-income citizens, especially those who do not have employer health insurance coverage are given subsidies (Jacobs, & Skocpol, 2010). The citizens who are not covered by Medicaid insurance policies have also had this health cover extended to them, thanks to health care reforms.

The reforms have also been extended to service delivery in health centres where records have been computerized to improve on accuracy and eliminate errors in the health centres as well as aiding in the sharing of data. The insurance plans that are expensive attract taxes to ensure economic balances are upheld (Daschle, Lambrew & Greenberger, 2009). The payments and premiums involved in health insurance plans have also been reviewed under the reforms leading to a reduction in the incentive system for those hospitals with unreliable recovery records.

The citizens also largely protected from unethical practices by the insurance sector. The reforms in the health care sector have also gone a long way in ensuring that the previously uninsured citizens and those who wer4e denied coverage benefit by getting health insurance cover. Healthcare reforms in the United States have had a long journey which has seen increased prioritization of health concerns by the government.

Citizens have all along benefited from improved policies and subsidized policies and insurance plans regulated and reformed by the government. Were it not for these reforms, a large population would still be uninsured while others would be denied the necessary health care that they deserve. New reforms are comprehensively formulated with a focus on affordability and general inclusivity (Jacobs, & Skocpol, 2010).

References

Daschle, T., Lambrew, J., & Greenberger, S. (2009). Critical: What We Can Do About the

Health-Care Crisis. New York City: St. Martin's Press.

Halvorson, G. (2007). Health Care Reform Now!: A Prescription for Change. Hoboken, New

Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Harrington, C., & Crawford, C. (2004). Health Policy: Crisis and Reform in the U.S. Health

Care Delivery System. Sudbury, Massachusetts: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Jacobs, L., & Skocpol, T. (2010). Health Care Reform and American Politics: What Everyone

Needs to Know. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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