The statement above has highlighted the challenges that are facing the healthcare system in America. I agree with this sentiments that; trying to balance the healthcare budget while at the same time providing high quality health services is a huge and challenging task for the US government. Healthcare in the United States according to evidence from surveys and statistics is seen to be the best in the world with Americans enjoying better health status today than before. With the development of new and effective drugs, combined with extensive surgery diseases such as leukemia and heart disease are a thing of the past. The life expectancy of the average American has increased from 69 years in 1955 to 75 years in 1995 and then to 77 years in 2005 (Greenwald, 2010).
The healthcare system in America has however faced some criticism and controversy in recent times. The major cause of concern is that the cost of healthcare services had increased steadily during the late 20th and early 21st century. Despite there being public policies to control the cost of healthcare, the price appeared to be increasing at the beginning of the 21st century. Greenwald (2010) highlights the fact that in the early 1970s, Americans paid nothing for their healthcare, a situation which is not in evidence today. Rather, Americans today have been forced to pay for their medical costs which are very high out of their own pockets. The high cost has been a concern for private and public insurers who have looked for ways to reduce insurance coverage for individuals so as to reduce the cost. Employers have also complained about the high employee health care costs stating they have reduced the international competitiveness of American healthcare with other countries.
Another criticism of the healthcare system is that; there is substantial inequality evidenced when providing healthcare for people from minority or ethnic groups and lower economic income classes. People who earned a lot of money and were non-minorities were able to access better healthcare services meaning that they had a good health status and they lived longer than the poor and minority group. For example male African Americans had a higher mortality than men of any other nationality or race while women from a different race or ethnic group had a lower death rate than the men from the same group (Kovner et al, 2008).
Policy makers are looking for ways to decrease the cost of healthcare without reducing the quality of health care. According to Stanton (2010), “The policy makers have used strategies to reduce the high rates of healthcare costs by slowing payments made to hospitals, health care plans and home care providers”. Employers in the private sector have responded to the high medical costs by encouraging their employees to enroll themselves into health care programs that are managed and controlled.
Some would argue that to avoid the high medical bills, people should have safer health practices and avoid diseases or injuries. This to some extent is a practicable solution but in the event of a disease outbreak it does not seem viable. Every day, American citizens access medical institutions for medical attention. The US government is charged with the role of ensuring that they are able to gain health care at a minimum cost.
Greenwald, H.P. (2010). Health care in the United States: organization, management and policy. San Francisco: Jossey Bass Publishers.