What is it that makes Americans overly enthusiastic over health care reform? A statement like “don’t touch my Medicare” or “everyone should have access to state of the art health care irrespective of cost” are, to me, ignorant and arousing responses that show an insufficient comprehension of our health system’s history, present and future resources as well as the financial challenges America is facing in the coming years.
We all have questions about how the health system has reached what many consider to be an “episode of crisis. Let’s remove some of the anger from the discussion by looking at the process by which the health care system in our country was born and how it has changed our perceptions and beliefs regarding health care. As a starting point, let’s examine the benefits and drawbacks of the Obama administration’s health reforms. Let’s also take a look at the theories that are being proposed by Republicans?
Access to the latest medical facilities is something we believe is beneficial for this nation. Being diagnosed with an illness that is serious is one of the most difficult challenges in life and the thought of not having the ability to cover the cost is truly terrifying. As we’ll learn, when we are aware of the facts, we’ll realize that reaching this goal isn’t simple without our personal contribution.
These are the topics I’ll touch on in an attempt to make sense of what’s going on with American health healthcare and the actions we can take personally to improve the situation.
A brief review of American health care. What is the reason for the cost to be to be so high? Some of the key components in the Obama health care program Republican vision of health care: free market competition . Universal access to the latest health care – an admirable objective, but it’s not easy to attain.
Let’s first get an understanding of the history behind American medical care. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive study of that past, but rather an understanding of how our health system and our expectations of it developed. What factors drove costs to be higher and higher?
Let’s begin by turning toward how the American Civil war. In the war, outdated tactics and the calamity caused by modern weaponry from the time produce horrific results. It is not widely known that the majority of the deaths from both sides of the war were not due to the actual fighting, but rather what transpired after an injury from a battlefield. For health care in Israel לבריאות all the modern facilities are available with cutting edge advanced testing techniques.
At first, the removal of wounded patients was carried out in a slow manner and caused significant delays in the treatment of injured. Furthermore, numerous injuries were subjected to surgery for wounds, as well as related surgeries or amputations of the affected limbs. This often led to the onset of a massive infection.
In other words, you could be able to get a battle scar, but then die in the hands of medical personnel who, despite being good intentions, their actions were usually fatal. The high death tolls could also be blamed on everyday illnesses and ailments in a time where antibiotics were not available. Around 600,000 people died from various causes, which is more than two percent in people in the U.S. population at the time!
We’ll skip the beginning in the early 20th century to gain an additional perspective, and also to bring us into more recent times. After the Civil War, there was a steady improvement in American medicine , in both knowledge and treatment of specific illnesses, as well as innovative surgical techniques, and the education and training of physicians.
However, for the most part the only thing doctors could provide their patients was the “wait and see” approach. Medical doctors could manage bone fractures and even perform risky surgery (now mostly done in sterilized surgical areas) however, there were no medications yet in use to treat serious diseases.
Most deaths were caused by untreatable diseases like pneumonia, tuberculosis scarlet fever, measles or other related issues. Doctors became more aware of heart and vascular diseases as well as cancer, but didn’t have the resources to treat these diseases.
This basic overview of American medical history allows us understand that up until the very recent (around in the 50’s) there were no technology to treat major or minor illnesses. This is an important issue to be aware of; “nothing to treat you with” means that doctor visits or even a visit to the doctor were restricted to emergencies. In the event of such an incident, costs were reduced. The fact is there was nothing that doctors could offer, and, consequently, practically nothing was available to drive the cost of health care.
Another reason for the low costs was that the medical treatment which were offered were paid out of pocket which means through the individual’s own resources. There was no health insurance, and definitely not health insurance provided from an employer. With the exception of those who were fortunate enough to find the way to a charity hospital, the cost of health care were the sole responsibility of the patient.
What does health insurance have in relation to health expenses? The impact it has on health care costs is, and continues to be to this day, massive. When health insurance plans for individuals and families was introduced as an option for companies to avoid wage freezes and to keep employees following World War II, almost instantly, an enormous amount of cash was made available to fund health insurance.
The money, due to the existence of billions of dollars in medical insurance companies, pushed an ingenuous America to boost medical research. More Americans were covered not only through employer-sponsored, private health insurance, but also through the increase in federal funding, which led to the creation of Medicare in 1965 and Medicaid (1965).
Additionally, funds were made available to expand veterans’ health benefits. Finding a cure for nearly everything has been extremely profitable. This is also the main reason behind the wide variety of treatments to choose from today.
I am not trying to say that medical breakthroughs aren’t beneficial. Consider the tens of millions of lives saved, improved, extended and improved because of. However, as a funding source has that has grown to the current size (hundreds in billions each year) the pressure to increase the cost of health care is bound to increase.
Doctor’s advice and most of us require and receive access to the latest medical technology, which includes medical devices, pharmaceuticals, surgical instruments and diagnostic tools. This means that we have more health care available to invest our money in and up until a few years ago, most of us were covered and costs were paid for by a third party (government or employers). Add to that an unending and unreasonable demands from the public for accessibility to and treatments and you have what is known as the “perfect storm” for higher and more expensive health cost. In the end, the situation is only getting worse.
Let’s now look at the most important questions that will guide us to a thorough review and hopefully a greater comprehension of the health care reforms that are in the news today. Are the current trends in U.S. health care spending viable? Are we able to help America remain competitive in the world with 16% of the money that accounts for 20 percent of our national gross production, is being devoted to health care? What are other industrialized nations paying for health insurance, and are they even near the same amount? If we include the political climate and elections year into the mix the information needed to determine these questions becomes vital.
It is essential to put time understanding health care and debating what we think about it. With the right knowledge, we can effectively determine if certain proposals in health care could help or cause more harm to some of the issues. What can we do to address these issues? What can we do as individuals to help to solve the problems?
The Obama health plan for healthcare is complicated for certain, but I’ve not seen a health insurance plan that wasn’t. Through a myriad of initiatives, his plan aims to tackle the issues of) increasing the percentage of American who are covered under sufficient coverage (almost 50 million don’t) and b) controlling costs in that the quality of care and access to health care are not negatively affected. Republicans attempt to accomplish the same broad and basic goals, but their plan is portrayed as more market-oriented than the government’s. Let’s examine what the Obama plan is doing to achieve the two goals above.
Do not forget, by the way his plan was approved by the congress and is set to really kick in from 2014. This is the path we’re taking now as we try to improve health care reform.
Through the insurance exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid, the Obama plan significantly increases the amount of Americans who are protected under health insurance.
To help pay for the expansion, the plan requires everyone to be covered by health insurance, with a penalty to be paid in the event that we fail to comply.It will supposedly provide money to states to pay for those that are added to states-based Medicaid programs.
To offset the increased costs, there were several new taxes enacted to cover the additional costs. One of them is an 2.5 percent tax on the development of medical technology. Another tax raises taxes on dividends and interest income for the most wealthy Americans.
This Obama plan also employs concepts such as evidence-based medical accountable care organizations, comparative effectiveness research , and decreased reimbursements to health care service providers (doctors as well as hospitals) to reduce costs.
The insurance mandate that is covered by the points 1 , 2 and 3 above are a worthwhile aim and the majority of industrialized countries that are not part of the U.S. provide “free” (paid for through very high corporate and individual taxes) health insurance to the majority or all of their citizens.
It is crucial to remember that there are a variety of limitations for which the majority of Americans are not prepared culturally. This is the most controversial element that is part of the Obama plan: the insurance obligation.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently was able to hear arguments as to the legality for the mandate to purchase health insurance the result of an appeal filed by 26 states attorneys general alleging who claimed that Congress had exceeded its power in the Commerce clause of the U.S. constitution by passing this provision of the plan.
If it is decided that the Supreme Court should rule against the mandate, it’s generally accepted it is likely that the Obama plan in its current form is likely to fail. This is because the primary objective of providing health insurance coverage to everyone would be severely restricted should it not be completely halted in the event of a ruling.
You can imagine that the tax rates mentioned in 3 above are disregarded by the organizations as well as individuals who must pay these taxes. Pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies hospitals, doctors, and insurance companies have all needed have to “give up” something that will either generate additional revenue or cut expenses within their areas of control.
In one instance, Stryker Corporation, a major medical device manufacturer recently announced at minimum 1,000 employees being cut to pay for the new costs. The same is happening to other medical device companies as well as pharmaceutical companies too.
The decline in high-paying jobs in these industries as well as in the hospital industry will likely increase as old cost structures will need to be addressed to meet the lower rate of reimbursement for hospitals. In the next 10 years, certain estimates place the cost reductions for doctors and hospitals at one-half trillion dollars. it will be passed directly onto and impact the businesses which supply doctors and hospitals with the most recent medical technologies.
This is not to suggest that efficiencies won’t be achieved by these changes , or that no jobs will not be created. However, this may cause pain for a time. This helps us understand the fact that reforms in health care affect us in a positive as well as negative.
In the end, the Obama plan aims to alter the way that medical decision-making is taken. Although basic and clinical research is the basis of almost all work in the field of medicine doctors are also creatures of habit just like us, and their education and daily experiences influence to a significant extent the way they approach diagnosing and treating the conditions we suffer. The concept of evidence-based medicine as well as studies on comparative efficacy. Both are attempting to establish and apply databases of information that are derived from electronic health records as well as other sources to provide better and more accurate information and the physicians with feedback on the effects and cost of the treatment they offer.
There is a lot of medical waste in the present, with estimates of up to one-third of the over 2 trillion dollars of healthcare expenditure per year. Imagine the savings achievable from a decrease in unnecessary procedures and tests that don’t compare to health care treatments which are more documented as efficient. The Republicans and other political parties don’t appreciate these notions as they usually describe the idea in terms of “big government control” of my and my health care.
However regardless of political beliefs, most people who have any knowledge of the concept of health care are aware that more accurate information for the goals discussed above are essential for ensuring health care efficiency and patient safety as well as costs moving in the proper direction.
A brief summary of what Republicans and others who are more conservative are thinking about health care reform.
I think they’d believe that health care costs should be brought under control, and that more than fewer Americans are entitled to health insurance regardless of their financial ability to pay. However, the major difference is that they believe that competition and market forces as the best way to achieve the cost-savings and efficiency that we require.
There are many strategies to create greater competition between health insurance providers and health healthcare suppliers (doctors and hospital) in order that the consumer will begin to drive costs down with our choices. This can be done in many different sectors of our economy, but this method has demonstrated that improvement is not always evident in the context of health healthcare. The main issue is that the choices for health care are a challenge even for those who know about it and are connected. The majority of the population is, however, not that well-informed.
We have been taught to “go to the doctor” when we believe it’s essential and also have a tradition of culture that has created in the majority of us the belief that health care exists and that there is no reason not to avail it regardless of why and, even more importantly, we feel that there’s no way to alter the cost of health care for ensuring its accessibility for those who have serious health issues.
This article wasn’t intended to be an exhaustive research since I wanted to be brief in order to keep my readers’ attention and give room for discussion about the ways we can assist in solving some of the issues. It is important to realize that the resources available to health care aren’t unlimited. Any changes implemented to offer greater insurance coverage and accessibility to healthcare will be more expensive. It is up to us to come up with the funds to fund these changes. In the meantime, we must lower the price of procedures and medical treatments, and limit the availability of non-proven or undocumented treatments since we have the highest-cost health systems in the entire world. We do not necessarily have the best results when it comes to longevity or the prevention of chronic illnesses early than is needed.
I believe that we must make an overhaul in how we view the health system, its accessibility and costs, as well as who is responsible for paying for it. If you think that I’m going to suggest we need to arbitrarily and dramatically cut down on the amount we spend on health care, you’d be mistaken. It’s my our fellow citizens – the cost of health care must be safeguarded and maintained for those who require it.
To free the money, those who don’t require it or who can delay or avoid it should be proactive. The first step is to convince our politicians that the country requires ongoing public education about the importance of health prevention strategies. This should be the top priority and has helped decrease the amount of U.S. smokers for example. If prevention could be a reality, it’s plausible to conclude that the number of people seeking health care for the many lifestyle caused chronic illnesses would drop drastically.
Millions of Americans are suffering from these ailments more quickly than they did in the ago, and the reason result from poor lifestyle way of life choices. This alone will make it possible to save a lot of money to pay for the health expenses for those who are in urgent need of medical attention, whether because of an crisis or a chronic illness.
Let’s get into the initial issue. The majority of us aren’t willing to to implement fundamental wellness practices in our lives. We do not exercise, yet we make a lot of excuses. We don’t eat well, but we give a variety of excuses. We smoke, or consume alcohol in excess, and offer a myriad of reasons the reasons we aren’t doing something about these to be harmful behaviors.
We aren’t taking benefit of the preventive health screenings which look at cholesterol levels, blood pressure and body weight, but we give a variety of excuses. In the end, we ignore these issues and the result is that we fall victim earlier than is necessary to chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart issues and hypertension.
We end up seeing medical professionals for other routine issues due to the fact that “health care is there” and yet we believe we are not responsible to decrease our demand for it.
It’s difficult to hear these facts but it is simple to blame those who are sick. Perhaps they need to take better self-care! It could be true , or they may have an illness that is genetic and they have been a victim of the plight because of without fault. But the fact is that both of us can take personalized preventive actions to drastically improving access to healthcare for all others and lowering its cost. It is much more productive to focus on taking control of something rather instead of shifting responsibility.
There are an abundance of web sites for free which can help us live an improved health-conscious lifestyle. When you’re ready, “Google” “preventive health care strategies” and then search for the web page of your local hospital and you’ll find ample information to begin.
In the end, there’s a many things to consider here and I’ve tried to present the problems but also the effective impact we could be able to have on the preservation of the very best of the American health care system both now and in the near future. I’m eager to hear from you. In the meantime be proactive and improve your odds of being healthy and ensure that you have access to health care in the event of need.