Advocacy

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Every now and then, the debates and tensions emanating from the expensive and highly inequitable United States healthcare system forces us, as citizens, to generally reassess and question the country’s health care financial and delivery system. President Obama’s plan to reform the U.S healthcare system, in the beginning of his first term, is an excellent example of such periods of high tension. As President Obama pushed for healthcare reform policies, many Republicans and insurance companies fought against his policies by creating different measures to prevent these policies from resulting in an incremental change in the health care system. Unlike other more economically developed countries, the United States healthcare system does not give states the opportunity to provide free and/or affordable healthcare services to its residents. In countries such as France or Canada, healthcare is more affordable because it is operated by the government. In these countries, the government pays healthcare providers directly for their services. In the United States, however, healthcare initiatives are placed on the hands of private companies whose main focus is profitability through instituting high fees for healthcare services. Although some of the best medical care is available in the United States, the cost of health care and its delivery methods have always created many challenges for consumers and practitioners alike. In our society today, many people are uninsured and/or lack access to affordable health care services. Those that can afford health care fear that they may lose their coverage as health insurance companies seek new way to extricate themselves from providing coverage to the masses. Karger and Stoesz (2010) maintain that the number of uninsured people increased from 49 million in 2009 to 49.9 million in 2010, and this number is expected to grow even higher due to the current economic climate. This paper will assess the U.S healthcare system and how it is affecting the social work profession. To help with my presentation, I will be:

1)Exploring historical background of the U.S health care system 2)Describing some historical content of some major health care policies 3)Describing some problems that necessitated these different policies 4)Give policy description and analysis

5)Describe current debates and on-going discussions about alternatives or health care reform

Historical Background of American Health Care System
In order to understand how policies can affect our health care delivery system, one must

first understand the history behind the development of the American health care system. As with

other developed countries, the U.S health care system is comprised of both public and private

insurers. However, what set us apart from countries such as Great Britain, Sweden, and France is

the dominance of private insurance companies. Mintz and Schwartz (2000) found the

development of the U.S health care system as “driven by the interaction between the public and

private sectors: Actions of the state create constraints on private investments and subsequent

private investment decisions create equally compelling constraints on future policy” (p.230).

However, the current position of our health care system was not as profit driven like it is today;

in fact, according to Light (2004) the formation of the U.S health care system dates back to the

late1800’s when the country witnessed a rapid growth of medical doctor. During the times

leading to this period, the author maintains that public health care and dispensaries was provided

as a humanitarian effort to sick and helpless individuals. However, as the medical profession

grew, health care services became a capital competitive market which allowed physician to begin

charging for their services. Light (2004) further point that “the census of 1870 found 64,414

medical practitioners;...
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