Health Care Cost, Access, and Quality

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Introduction

Health care entails the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental and physical damages such as injuries, sicknesses and infections that individuals suffer from. Countries around the world vary in the provision of health care access, which is majorly influenced by the local health care policies, as well as social and economic factors. Recently, the costs of health care growth rate aligned. Hence, the government needs an adequately trained labor force, well-maintained heath facilities, and reliable source of information in order to help in decision-making and logistics, to deliver quality technologies, medicines and properly coordinated financing techniques, as well as to acquire proper functioning health care organizations. This essay discusses the issues of cost, access, and quality of health care. Specifically, the paper focuses on the rising of healthcare costs, its impact on access to healthcare, and the relationship between the cost and the quality. Furthermore, the trends in healthcare access and quality are also taken into consideration.

Rising Healthcare Costs and Solutions

Several factors contribute to the increase of the costs of health care, including the new technologies, procedures, and drugs that are quite expensive (Berwick et al., 2008). The physicians and patients frequently demand the newest and more expensive treatments which is rather reasonable since the advances in medical sphere can extend life and improve health despite their influence on health care triggering the cost to rise (Berwick et al., 2008). Another factor is that individuals are becoming fatter, older, and sicker. In other words, the health of the US citizens is deteriorating, which is in its turn increasing the demand for healthcare services. In the US, approximately half of the population suffer from at least one chronic conditions, for instance diabetes, heart disease, or asthma. Other two-thirds are either obese or overweight (Dixon, 2010). The sickness leads to extravagant medical spending (Vogeli et al., 2007).

Another reason of rising of cost health care is the tendency among individuals to pay the doctors for working more instead of being efficient. Many insurance companies make payments to health care providers covering every visit, procedure, and test done (Berwick et al., 2008). The medical structure is not cohesive, therefore resulting in repetitive tests and overtreatment. Most consumers do not make payments directly for their health care since most are under the employer-sponsored health benefits that are not taxed which also influences the rise in health care cost (Berwick et al., 2008). Most organizations offer their employee health insurance coverage denying the employee the right to make independent decisions regarding the cost of their treatment. The rising of the health care cost became an issue when the healthcare expenditure started becoming unsustainable in relation to the economic growth of the US. The healthcare expenditure comprises 18% of US GDP and grows at a 2% annually. Although this problem has been in existence for a while, the current fiscal challenges that the country is facing make it an urgent issue.

Apart from the above mentioned, healthcare costs are continuing to grow because of the number of factors. Firstly, the lack of coordination, in regard to which the healthcare system is fragmented leading to inefficiency that in turn increases the costs. Secondly, poor management of patient care including the transition between post-acute and acute care, which is often unmanaged (Berwick et al., 2008). Another factor resulting in the continued rise of healthcare costs is provider incentives. With these incentives, providers focus on delivering more care rather than delivering care in an efficient manner. Medical technology has also been identified as a driver of the discussed issues, as technological innovations are expensive (Kane, 2006). Other factors causing healthcare costs to grow include the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions and failing to engage patients including their family members in care decisions.

In order to curb the rising healthcare costs, the government should direct its efforts on a number of arreas including reforms in the payment system such as using bundled payments, reducing waste by eliminating services that are of no value, and imposing constraint on the healthcare budget. Managing different patient groups differently can also be suggested as the one of the approaches to deal with the matter. Other areas of focus include increasing transparency and focusing on prevention rather than treatment.

Impact of Cost on Care Access, Trends in Healthcare Access and Universal Care

The growth of healthcare costs has a significant impact on the access to it. In particular, it reduces the affordability of healthcare, which in turn can deprive the people of the ability to use it, especially among those lacking insurance coverage. Moreover, increasing costs of care transform into high medical bills, which implies that people are less likely to adhere to prescribed treatment (Dixon, 2010).

Nevertheless, the current access to health care has improved when compared to the past levels. This is evident from the significant reduction in the number of those lacking healthcare insurance following the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, which resulted in 16.4 million uninsured obtaining health coverage (Dixon, 2010).

Medicaid is a government program that pays health care costs for individuals with low income in the United States (Kane, 2006). Various doctors are reluctant to examine the patients who are the part of this program. Medicaid has low repayment rates compared to Medicare countrywide. The average payment rates are 61% with variation in every state (Kane, 2006). Despite the above mentioned, it also takes a longer time to reflect. Doctors complain of filling much complex paperwork, making the whole process tedious. Medicaid patients require a lot of devotion compared to the average patients. Hence, doctors are hesitant when deciding to help them and can even refuse to care for Medicaid patients. When healthcare costs are contained and legislative reforms are initiated in the healthcare sector, the existence of universal healthcare access is a possibility in the future.

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