Health Care Issue: Right of Privilege
“America is the technological superpower, the wealthiest nation in the world, and spends significantly more of its gross national product, and spends more per person, than any other nation in the world on health care. So where, then, does America stand on health?” (Lerner & Loman, 2005, p. 1). The purpose of this essay is to discuss and explore whether U.S. health care should be a right or a privilege. Many Americans feel that although the United States leads most of the world in medical advances and technology, the healthcare system is broken. A great number of people go without the care they desperately need, due to a lack of adequate insurance. Uninsured Americans
Lack of health insurance coverage for 46 million Americans is one of the nation's most pressing problems. While most elderly Americans have coverage through Medicare and over 60% of non-elderly Americans receive health coverage through employer-sponsored plans, many workers and their families remain uninsured because their employer does not offer coverage or they cannot afford the cost of coverage. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (2011) reported that the “ percentage of children under 18 who are uninsured rose from 10.8 percent in 2004 to 11.2 percent in 2005, while the number of uninsured children climbed from 7.9 million in 2004 to 8.3 million in 2005” ( ¶ 2). Lack of insurance is much more common among people with low incomes. “Some 24.4 percent of people with incomes below $25,000 were uninsured in 2005; almost triple the rate of 8.5 percent among people with incomes over $75,000” (Center on Budget and Policy, 2011, ¶). African Americans and Hispanics were much more likely to be uninsured than white, non-Hispanic people. As a result, millions of Americans go without health insurance.
The High Cost of Healthcare
Healthcare costs are driven, in part, by Medicare and private insurance payment policies that encourage doctors to order more tests and procedures. The larger availability of specialists and hospital beds also leads doctors to send patients to hospitals more frequently than provides any value for patient health. According to The American Council on Exercise (2006), “the Health and Human Services Department reported that U.S. businesses pay more than $74 billion in health care costs each year for employees who smoke and an extra $82 billion per year in lost productivity. American industry loses $32 billion and 132 million workdays a year due to employees’ premature deaths associated with cardio vascular disease; lowered productivity due to sickness and disability cost billions more” (¶ 2). There are many factors that are responsible for the high cost of health care in the U. S. One of the leading drivers of the growth in health care costs in the U.S. is the way in which providers are paid; primarily, a fee-for service by insurance companies. When providers are paid for the volume and concentration of delivered services why should anyone be surprised when that’s exactly what they deliver? Another leading factor is the introduction of new medical technologies and prescription drugs of all types that drives up patient costs. When combined, the cost becomes astronomical to both the insured and non-insured. These factors continue to be an engine for the problems that employers, insurers and patients face regarding costs. To make healthcare affordable the cost has to go down. In order for the cost to go down doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies would have to charge less for their services and the cost of medicines. Health Care: The Largest Industry of Employment
“As one of the largest industries in 2008, healthcare provided 14.3 million jobs for wage and salary workers. Ten of the 20 fastest growing occupations are healthcare related. Healthcare...