Health care system in the United States is on an unsustainable way and in need of transformation. Even if, it has both private and public insurers like in other countries but the uniqueness of this system is dominant of the private component. The United States spends more on health care than any other nation but the nation is less healthy than the average population in other developed countries. Additionally, many people stay uninsured and do not have access to health care. There is a need for a deep change in the system of health care (Chua, 2006).
This paper will identify and evaluate three forces that have affected the development of the health care system in the United States of America. Than, it will speculate whether or not these forces will continue to affect the health care system in the U.S. over the next decade including additional force impacting the health care system of the nation. Finally, it will evaluate the importance of technology in health care.
Three Forces That Have Affected the Development of the Health Care System in the United States of America.
The development of health care system in the U.S. has been affected by many different forces such social, economy, behavioral, political and technological issues. A very important factor affecting health care system is economy. The economy aspect in health care includes employment, health care cover and costs that allow people to have financial access to healthcare. In such an unstable economy as we have faced recently some employers drop or restrict coverage or prevent eligibility of its employees to continue coverage. Even more, they have a tendency to reduce costs of health care insurance by readjusting the benefits offered or sharing in the cost.
Those with low income or those who lost their jobs are left uninsured. Moreover, employer-sponsored healthcare coverage has changed and some employees are no longer offering health care insurance coverage as a benefit. This will continue to be an issue in the health care system if the economy remains in recession (American Medical Association, 2005). In March 2010 the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed and supposed to increase quality and affordability of health insurance while reducing costs of health care for individuals and government but still is difficult to estimate if this act is going to bring real changes in health care field (Cembranelli, 2012).
Another force affecting health care system in America is a social factor that interacts with the economy. The size and composition of population has a great influence on health services. Since the rate of births is higher than the number of deaths; the population has grown remarkably. Also, the constantly increasing number of immigrants affects the current population of the country. According to the data from by the census bureau, the aging population is healthier and lives longer then previous generations.
Their way of live is more beneficial to health; they have more active lifestyles, social activities and cosmetic medicines. Such tendency impacts the health care system. The biomedical advances enhance longevity that leads to longer periods of economic and social dependency, while improving the quality of life. The aging population intensifies a burden on the younger workers and will result to impact social policies, taxes, politics and life in general. In the same way, fertility, abortion trends, mortality trends affecting life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality impact the development of health care (Wiliams & Torrens, 2010).
Additional aspects influencing the development of health care systems in the U.S are behavioral factors. Many advances have been made in the field of disease preventions, treatments and lifestyle patterns. The rise of the AIDS woke up individuals to the fact that infectious diseases are still challenging. Controlling infectious disease has become a significant public health issue and is associated with an improvement in living conditions. Challenges in mortality are currently focused on chronic diseases and awareness to fight new outbreaks of infectious diseases play a major part. Threats of biological weapons in war terror, exposure to violence, vehicular accidents, and use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco products as well as infectious agents have an impact on behavior.
Sexual behaviors have an impact on the widespread of sexually transmitted diseases resulting an increase in infertility, cancer and other complications. Moreover, intensified stress in daily life, workplace violence, issues in marriage, domestic abuse and many other problems brings breakdowns and deterioration of human immune system and affects morbidity and mortality that are linked to behavior and social interaction. The failure of the society to address social, behavioral and economics causes of disease will continue to affect the development of the healthcare system (Williams & Torrens, 2010).
How the Forces Will Affect the Health Care System in the United States of America Over the Next Decade, Including Additional Force-Medical Technology.
All of the forces that affect the health care in the U.S. will continue over the next decade especially that there is a failure in addressing them. There is a chance that situation may even worsen and new challenges can arise. Even if, improvements of technology constantly increase efficiency, the cost of new tests and treatments will be greater than the savings based on mentioned previously economic, social and behavior factors. Health care will keep getting better in diagnosis and treating diseases lengthening patients’ lives and at the same time increasing the number of people requiring care (Adams, Archbold, Munib, & New, 2007).
The U.S. health care system is dysfunctional and can no longer continue as it currently operates. With or without Affordable Care Act (ACA), there is a need for a deep change. The United States spends more money on health care because a nation is less healthy on the average than the rest of the developed world. The system is dysfunctional and ACA is fast-tracking the process of changes that will be faced by the economic and business challenges by health care organizations. The required adjustments to healthcare organizations operating budgets and methodologies for delivering medicine may become a big issue.
Health care organizations will have to go from volume-based reimbursement in medicine based on the number of procedures done or patients seen to a value-based system that will give the same money for every patient regardless of the procedure performed. Health care organizations may have lower income since they will treat more patients. They may face cost-pressure factors such as the overall cost of medical care and the increased incidence of chronic disease, cost transparency and reference pricing, increased government role in paying for care, increased coverage and limited highly skilled medical workforce There is a prediction that forty million more people will be covered nationally, at reimbursement rates below the cost of providing that care (Adams et al., 2007).
Among the economic, social and behavioral forces impacting development of the health care system is medical technology that brings a great change in the health care but it raises costs of health care. It impacts economy, organizations, industry as well as patients, insurance beneficiaries and social and governmental policy. Medical technology increases cost in health care on one hand but on the other hand improves diagnosing and treatment. Use of current medical technology allows health care organizations to develop new products and services and this way increase standards of offered services. As new technologies are developed, they bring new ethical and regulatory issues. Issues in technological advances will bring more challenges and affect the development of the health care services bringing it into the new century (Etheredge, Jones, & Lewin, 1996).
The Importance of Technology in Health Care.
Technology today plays an important role in health care because it improves quality of care. According to Williams and Torrens (2010), technology is the driving force of health care. It helps in the storing and organization of patient records or information and gives access to doctors to medical records. Use of technology in health care allows better and faster diagnosis and treatments. The technology is very beneficial in overcoming communication barriers in health care. It has an impact in so many areas in the healthcare world such as economic, clinical, organization, and industrial impact as well as on patients and insurance beneficiaries, social, government and policy impact. It is a hope for a long, productive life for millions of people but it has to be properly implemented by trained individuals.
Health care organizations must ensure that they hire the proper staff capable to implement it while providing security and protection of patients’ data. Proper implementation of technology allows capturing, track, record and recognizing illnesses quickly and treating them effectively. Technology lets people and communities to stay healthy by providing them access whenever it is needed. Moreover, it brings opportunities to wellness and will also be used to stabilize physiology, modify risky behaviors, design and field snap clinical trials advancing biomedical knowledge and care for individuals with health care challenges. Despite of all benefits that technology brings to health care, today some express a concern that innovation is being stifled, capital is unavailable for technology acquisition, and reimbursement is inadequate (Graham, Estrin, Horvitz, Kohane, & Mynatt, 2011).
Health care system in the United States is struggling with high cost while trying to improve quality and increasing access for the health services. There are social, economy, behavioral, political and technological factors that affect development in health care system in the country. An important role in this development plays technology that improves quality and efficiency of diagnosis and treatment on one hand but on the other hand increases significantly costs of health care. There is a deep need to transform the health care system by improving the experience of care and the health of populations at the same time reducing costs of health care.
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