Despite being the most economically advanced country in world history, the state of medical health coverage among the US population is significantly underdeveloped
- List at least 3 things you were previously not aware of about global health that surprised you.
Despite being the most economically advanced country in world history, the state of medical health coverage among the US population is significantly underdeveloped compared to other peer nations (Dieleman et al., 2020). Another surprise is that despite spending the most on healthcare per capita, health-associated outcomes are still relatively comparable or lower in other countries. Lastly, in contrast with other countries where healthcare is considered a right of every person, in the US, healthcare is treated as a form of business where only higher social classes have access to good healthcare, making the lower social classes vulnerable (Anderson et al., 2019).
- Give details about what was surprising compared to the prior assumptions or knowledge you had about the 3 things you selected.
One would expect that the world’s richest and most powerful country would match up with having the most advanced form of healthcare, but this is a stark contrast in the US state. Statistics reveal that the US spends about 11,000 $ per capita every year on healthcare, making it significantly higher than any other developed country (Dieleman et al., 2020). My assumptions were that spending on healthcare systems is directly proportional to health-associated outcomes. However, metrics to measure health outcomes, such as mortality rates, reveal that the US has a higher infant mortality rate than countries such as Sweden, France, and Japan. Likewise, its life expectancy is far below countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada (Papanicolas et al., 2018). Lastly, the fact that most developed countries like Germany, France, and the UK have some form of adopted healthcare coverage for all members of society, and the US still has no solution to this problem is a stark contrast to my prior beliefs.
- How do you think the United States compares to other countries and what areas need change to improve the health of the public.
Compared to other countries, the US still lags when ranking the state of healthcare within the country. Unlike other countries like the UK, the country has no universal coverage, whereas the National Health Service (NHS) provides free medical access to individuals from all social classes (Shrank et al., 2019). Many reasons fuel this, but one is the high cost of acquiring treatment, causing naturally induced barriers for certain populations, specifically lower-income ones, to receive healthcare. Many things fuel this high cost of healthcare, but one is the high cost of prescription drugs administered at healthcare institutions. With no form of government negotiation or intervention in the cost of pharmaceuticals, high costs of drugs often cause patients to skip doses and ration medicine to save on expenses (Anderson et al., 2019). This has led to a practice known as drug tourism, whereby the high cost of buying medicine forced Americans to travel to neighboring countries such as Canada and Mexico to buy relatively cheaper drugs (Papanicolas et al., 2018).
To change this, the US needs to embark on a number of recommendations to make its healthcare system comparable to other developed countries. One is the development of a Universal health coverage system capable of offering low-cost quality treatment to individuals of all social classes reducing the rate of discrimination currently in the country’s healthcare system (Shrank et al., 2019). To achieve this, the country will also require embarking on another initiative to lower prescription drug prices by increasing government regulation and negotiating with companies on pharmaceutical pricing.
- What suggestions do you have to make the changes you recommend above? (This response will require some individual research on your part and the information provided must be up to date within the past 3 months with a reference as to where the information was retrieved)
To implement the listed suggestion of a proposed universal healthcare coverage system, the US can adopt a single-payer system in which the government caters to all covered healthcare expenses. This approach would provide access to healthcare for all classes of individuals, making it more effective in reducing healthcare disparities across the country. Likewise, implementing this approach will reduce the associated administrative costs and increase efficiency in implementing universal healthcare for the country’s citizens (Bryant, 2022).
– There are several things that I was made aware of after watching this segment. The first thing that I learned was that in America is the world’s most expensive healthcare system in the world, it leaves 47 million people without health insurance coverage, and hundreds of thousands of people go bankrupt each year due to healthcare bills as of 2008. This is quite an eye opening. Another thing that I learned from this segment is that in Switzerland there are no citizens that go bankrupt from medical bills. A third, and equally surprising piece of information that I learned is that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), America ranked 37th in the world in terms of quality and fairness regarding their health care system. Furthermore, I learned that expenses for health care are quantified based on the type of government they have. So the metrics are hard to compute.
2- I was surprised to hear that America has the world’s most expensive healthcare system. The reason that I am shocked to hear this is that India and China are over four times larger than America. The sheer numbers alone make this statistic hard to believe but I would attribute the cost as relative to the actual care provided. Also, the statistic of 47 million people being left without health insurance coverage is concerning. Ideally, every single person would be covered. Although this statistic is alarming, a portion of this must be contributed to the fact that we are a capitalist society regarding the healthcare of people that do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Therefore, it is the choice of each individual if they want to pay the money for insurance or not. On the other hand, it is heartbreaking to hear that hundreds of thousands of people go bankrupt from medical bills each year. I sympathize with the ones who are not choosing this option and simply cannot afford insurance. When I hear statistics about smaller countries (in comparison to America) such as Switzerland having zero citizens filing for bankruptcy then I envy them, but I understand that it is relative to the type of government and health care provided. The level of care is hard for me to compare but I would love to experience every system in the world and help in the decision-making process worldwide. Finally, hearing that America is ranked 37th in the world by the World Health Organization when we are the most expensive healthcare system in the world is worrisome in my eyes. If the citizens in the United States are paying the most then I would expect a ranking near the top. At least in the top ten of the world. I would love to know the metrics used by the World Health Organization to see why America is ranked much lower than the expenses the citizens pay.
3- Being a front-line worker in the United States I would say from my experience that our healthcare system is fair and balanced. I do not believe there is a perfect system. I believe we must give citizens the freedom of choice across the board, and everyone must live with the decisions they make. If someone desires to save money and not pay for insurance, then they must know that they are taking a risk by betting on their own health. I believe our healthcare system would be improved further by privatizing even more of our healthcare system, which would mean eradicating Medicare and Medicaid. What our country should do is educate the citizens during their K-12 years about our health care system and allow them to decide if they want coverage, what type of coverage they desire, and what that coverage will provide them with. The reason I say this is because there are some people that are being forced to pay for Medicare, Medicaid, and (during the years of Obamacare forced coverage or pay a fine) health insurance that will never use nor need it. I believe in educating and allowing them to live with the costs or benefits of their decisions.
4- I believe in choice for everyone. If people decide they do not want to pay for health insurance, they should not have to pay for it. It is no different than holding a gun to someone and forcing them to have something they do not want. If our education system would teach citizens how health care works and specifically how our health care system works, then they would be able to make a decision based on their lifestyle and budget. It is not right that our government forces individuals that do not want health insurance to take money out of their paychecks and a potential net gain away from a corporation to provide health care for people that do want health insurance. That is exactly what our system is right now. Currently, our government takes %1.45 out of each individual paycheck and another %1.45 out of a corporation to provide Medicare for qualified people (IRS.gov). If a person wants to keep that %1.45 then who is to say that it will not be used for a better cause? If all governments were not involved in our healthcare system at all then our healthcare costs would drop significantly. There was a period in America’s recent history when people were paying fines for not having health insurance coverage on top of taking that %1.45 out of their paychecks. There are several other factors the government involved themselves in that they have no business being involved in that cause prices of health care to rise significantly, such as the price of insulin. If we had free and open markets to do business across the world then we could manufacture and import healthcare materials, drugs, and other goods for a fraction of the price.