Major Issues With Health Care Systems
All that matters to a person is when the people he/she loves are healthy; everything else is just sprinkles on the sundae. All that troubles a government is trying to preserve and keep its citizens healthy. That might be the main reason why governments are pumping a lot of money in the health sectors as families invest a lot of money in the health of their loved ones. Unfortunately, as a lot is being invested in the health sectors there are many problems that trail behind them. These problems need to be handled economically and professionally in order to improve the health sectors.
Governments are working tirelessly to ensure that its’ citizens have health insurances. Unfortunately, millions of people have never been insured. Drastically has this number grown over the past years and is feared to rise even more. The level of poverty in many countries is to be blamed for this as many citizens cannot afford to insure themselves and their families. They therefore have very limited or no access to the health services. This has caused a tremendous increase in the number of illnesses in these countries.
The cost of running the health care is very expensive. Never the less, guaranteeing citizens of basic and improved health care is more than unbearable to many countries, not to mention the expensive medical technologies that some countries cannot afford. It’s not surprising to hear that some diseases cannot be controlled in some countries because of lack of necessary medical equipments to treat or control them. The cost of employing qualified personnel in the medicine field is another issue at hand. This expensive nature of health care has resulted to lack medical technology, drugs and also qualified personnel in many health cares.
Access to health is the determinant factor of the health disparities; universal coverage can never be a cure for this. Unfortunately, health disparities are affecting the minority groups in the society. These include women, children, the elderly, the disabled and the people living in the rural areas. They have very limited access to health services and are less likely to get proper medical care and attention. Governments ought to increase the affordability and accessibility of health services to make them readily available for the groups.
In addition to this, health care systems are carelessly losing many patients daily. Some patients die from the errors and accidents as a result of the carelessness of the working personnel in the health sectors. The doctors and nurses sometimes attempt procedures that need not to be done resulting to more harm or the death of the patients. This has been a very serious issue in many countries.
Health issues are very serious and should be attended to seriously to reduce the number of diseases and deaths within our communities leading to a health community.
Each of the topics and tasks below were inspired by the Steven Brill article above. I highly suggest that you, the teacher, read the article so that you've got a firm grasp on the issues and some of the facts. Then, you can decide what (if anything) you want your students to read to inform their own opinions.
Should there be limits on the prices drugmakers and hospitals charge for certain drugs?
New, sophisticated drugs are necessary to treat diseases like cancer. These drugs often cost several thousand dollars per treatment straight from the manufacturer, and hospitals will often mark the price of these drugs up even further when they bill patients. The patient usually has little to no choice in the matter, and there's no competition to help drive down prices as would happen in a normal market.
Drug makers, on the other hand, argue that high prices are necessary to fund research and development. Brill has some interesting numbers to challenge that assertion, and you'll want to read his findings before you make up your mind. However, there's a fundamental question about free market economics, liberty, and fairness involved in this question.
Should there be limits on the salaries of hospital administrators?
One of Brill's findings is that hospital CEOs and other administrators are paid outsized salaries - often in the high six figures or even seven figures. In the case of hospitals attached to research universities, the hospital administrator is often paid more than the university president. This is similar in some ways to the salary arms race going on in college sports, where head football coaches are paid exorbitant salaries.
In the scheme of things, reducing administrative salaries probably won't bring costs down much. But it just seems like a good idea. It's also interesting to note that many of these hospitals are not-for-profit organizations.
Should hospital fees be tied directly to the cost of providing a particular service?
A constant theme of Brill's article is the "chargemaster" list. It's a list of prices for particular services and items administered at a hospital, and it's the basis for all prices charged to individuals and to insurance companies. These lists have no logical connection to the actual cost of services, and they often produce extremely high mark-ups (1000% to 2000%) over the actual cost.
There's an alternative method, which Medicare uses. When the government reimburses hospitals for treating medicare patients, it draws on a calculated list of what it actually costs to provide a service. These prices are drastically lower than the ones on the chargemaster. An interesting reform might be to tie the prices of all fees to this Medicare reimbursement list, and then allow a certain mark-up for the hospitals to make a profit.
Should uninsured individuals pay more for the same services?
A peculiar problem of the American healthcare system is that uninsured (or underinsured) people face steep charges if they go to the hospital. These fees are based on the previously mentioned, outrageously over-priced chargemaster. Insurance companies negotiate lower prices, and the government insists on a particular schedule of fees when it pays for Medicare and Medicaid patients.
Yet individuals who have no insurance are at the mercy of the hospital, and they must pay whatever the hospital charges them. To make matters worse, people often don't know how much they're going to be charged until after they've been treated. This begs the question of whether it's fair for some people to pay far more for healthcare than those who are covered by insurance.
Should there be limits on malpractice lawsuits (i.e. tort reform)?
On the conservative side, one argument about healthcare is that prices are so high because hospitals and doctors have to be concerned with malpractice lawsuits. One wrong step and they're on the line for millions of dollars of liability. If they don't exhaust every option, then they might even be on the hook for that. Brill suggests that this leads to massive over-testing, and doctors are ordering all kinds of tests (like CT Scans) that aren't really necessary.
By tightening the rules for proving malpractice - i.e. requiring true negligence on the part of the doctor - you free hospitals from the need to run excessive tests to simply cover their butts. This could help bring down spending significantly, although the counter argument is that this could lead to inferior care.