United States health care is the outcome of a number of public and private entities molded together. The services like ‘inpatient’ and ‘outpatient’ are provided through commercial, charitable, or governmental entities, thereby understating the fact that the system is an intelligent mix of public and private funding. The country boasts of the best possible technology for health care, but the same is available for most Americans at a high cost. Though insured ones can avail such facilities when the focus moves on those who are poor and uninsured or the members of underserved minorities, the level of access to a quality workforce is quite low, and in some extreme cases, it’s almost inaccessible (American College of Physicians, 2007).
The high inflation and increased rate of premium have caused an increase in the number of uninsured Americans, estimated at around 47 million Americans or almost 16% of the total population. Recommended preventive services and medication through able hands are less likely to be made available to those without health insurance. Another disturbing thing that comes to the fore is the high level of medical errors; the Institute of Medicine has cited various cases of unnecessary care, which indicates despite delivering a very consistent high-quality care; there have been some system-wide problems. The U.S. health care system needs an overhaul on a wide scale. Any change in government policy needs to ensure health equality through the reduction of inequality causing factors requires proper study of these factors (American College of Physicians, 2007). The factors discussed above have led to the policy-making in two different but logically interrelated directions. The first policy is to focus on the poorest circumstances; poorest health and the subject for the policy implementation are those who are the most socially excluded, facing the most of the given risk factors, and most difficult to approach. The second approach, while deciding policies, interlinks some of the conditions or situations taken for consideration while deciding things related to the policy-making in the first go. Some of the interlinked approaches are those in the poorest circumstance are in the high probability state of poorest health. This probabilistic approach ensures that a large number of people of the lower-income group have poor health conditions, but it doesn’t undermine the possibility of someone belonging to advantageous economic conditions but having poor health. So this approach includes not only the extreme cases but also many possible intermediary occurrences. Hence the approach for the second policy takes a whole view of the society to ensure proper health. The large number of people who might be in the advantageous group but unfortunately has many disadvantages in health terms have also been given equal weightage. The study and decision-making according to this policy may result in a better outcome. The preventive and awareness programs can now have segregated implementation. So the main thing for the government is to reduce social health inequality through the study of different factors which influence an individual’s health (American College of Physicians, 2007).
A Hygeia-based universal health care model would be the solution to all healthcare-related issues in the United States and would be a deterrent to all diseases or epidemics. The major feature of this health care model is not only a healthy society but also its cost-effectiveness. According to a report by U. S. Department of Health and Human Resources, the country will be able to provide its citizens better medical and health-related facilities just by providing them access to high quality and affordable prevention measures and will help the exchequer to save money in tune of $2 trillion (U. S. Department of Health and Human Resources [USDHHR], 2003). The current health care model has not given the desired result. Total spending in this model is about 15% of the GDP of the nation, but the performance has been dismal. The average life expectancy in countries like Japan, Iceland, and Spain is better than that of the U.S. It is also very much far behind many countries in preventing infant mortality and occurrence of cancer and has the highest obesity rate (National Governors Association [NGA], 2005). But by incorporating Prevention, better results can be achieved at a much lower cost. Chronic diseases are the most common and costly diseases, but most of them are preventable. If we talk about high blood pressure, more than 90% of Americans develop this in their middle age, but by lowering blood pressure, the risk of death from coronary heart disease, stroke, and total cardiovascular disease can be reduced to extremely lower levels. Similarly, regular mammograms can reduce the number of women at the risk of dying due to breast cancer. Other examples include colorectal cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases (USDHHR, 2003).
Excellent results in disease prevention can also be achieved by emphasizing the behavior of the general public. Some of the major death-causing but modifiable health-damaging behaviors are tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and poor eating habits. Tremendous achievements in health are possible if the health sector focuses mainly on the risk factor. The health benefits of quitting smoking, doing physical work, having a proper diet, and increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables are nothing but a great reduction in the risk of death due to diseases like lung cancer, heart cancer, and diabetes (USDHHR, 2003).
Modern tools and technology will be of great help in implementing Prevention based health care system. Effective use of Modern Information Technology and MIS, i.e., Management Information Systems, can vastly improve the efficiency of the system. By maintaining a centralized database for health-related and medical issues of its citizens can help in finding an easy solution to problems like medical aid and regular checkups. The development of a real-time, virtual health information system will become a stepping stone in improving the productivity of the department (NGA, 2005). The general public can easily be approached in case of any outbreak and vice versa. Electronic communication devices will be of great use for regular appraisal of different kinds of diseases and their Prevention to the general public, and hence people will always be ready both physically and mentally to fight any disease and threat to life.
Jackson, R. M. S. (1860), Mountain (p. 543) Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co U. S. Department of Health and Human Resources (2003), Steps to a Healthier U.S.: A Program and Policy Perspective. The Power of Prevention.
National Governors Association (2005), A National Health Care Innovations Program: A proposal to increase the cost-effectiveness and quality of the U.S. health care system.
American College of Physicians (2007) Achieving a High-Performance Health Care System with Universal Access: What the United States Can Learn from Other Countries, Annals of Internal Medicine, 2008 | Volume 148 Issue 1 | Pages 55-75.