The United States expenditure on its health care systems has risen to very high levels in the recent past. However, the nation has not attained the sufficient levels of health care. Many Americans have lost access to health care services because of the escalating costs of the services and lack of health care insurance. Another factor that has led to the insufficiency of health care services is the lack of qualified specialists in the health care system. Consequently, the nation has lost many people through deaths resulting from lack of proper health care services. The nation has embarked on reforms in the health care system, which has not yet brought any improvement to the devastating state of the system. The insufficiency of the health care system has lead to death of many Americans.
The health care system in the United States is unique as compared to those of other nations since its private element dominates the public element. The system constitutes medical and nursing practitioners as well as insurance bodies. It receives a huge amount of funds from the US government. The government gives an annual US$ 2 trillion to fund the system. There are however several challenges facing the health care system in the US. As a result, millions of people cannot access proper health care services in US. All the Americans experience the impact of the challenges though the middle and low-income earners are the most vulnerable. Poor quality, high costs and lack of access to health care services have frustrated all the health care participants-employers, employees and patients. This paper explores the major challenges facing the health care system in the United States, their impacts on the American society as well as the possible solution to these problems.
The challenges facing the health care system in the United States
The health care system in the United States lacks enough nursing practitioners to serve patients in the hospitals. By 2005, approximately 500,000 US registered nurses had chosen not to pursue their career in the US. This has been a big blow on the health system since it has been difficult to replace them. The other causes of inadequate nursing professionals are the ageing of the nurses and lack of proper training facilities. Studies have shown that low number of nursing professionals within a health care system has significant negative impact on millions of people in need of health care services (Hunt, 2006, p.460). It results into high mortality rates. In the US, many people view nursing as a job for women who have limited career options.
As a result, many people especially men choose not to take nursing as a career, thereby contributing to the inadequacy of nursing professionals in the health care system. The current acute shortage of nursing practitioners is partly the media’s fault in that the media portrays generally a poor image of nurses in the society. As a result, many people do not want to be associated with nursing profession. According to Hunt (2006), the system needs approximately 600,000 nurses to fill meet the current demand of health care services within the US (p. 458). The shortage leads to overworking of the available nursing practitioners. They are stressed thus are unable to provide quality services as required. In other hospitals, employers request unqualified individuals to take some responsibilities of professionals in the nursing field. It is a threat to many Americans. However, even if the state provides this number of nurses to the health care system, millions of Americans will not access the health care services due to lack of health care insurance.
Most people in the United States lack health care insurance cover. Research has shown that nearly 47 million Americans are uninsured. According to Garson, the high initial costs of insurance as well as the outrageous premiums deter people from obtaining health care insurance covers (2000, p.46). The public health insurance comprises of Medicare, Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Veterans’ Administration. On the other hand, the private insurance comprises of the Employer-Sponsored Insurance and the Private Non-group Insurance. Despite the existence of these insurance bodies, millions of people are not able to obtain health care cover due to the high costs associated with these services. It is quite unfortunate because despite the several insurance services that several institutions offer, most Americans cannot afford insurance cover. As a result, these people do not access preventive medicine, childhood vaccinations, as well as health checkups. Lack of administration of preventive vaccinations, most contagious diseases spread faster within populations. If the diseases go untreated, they may cause death of the victim. Other diseases have also become a challenge to the health care system.
The rise in cases of obesity within the American society is gradually becoming a challenge to the health care system. Aforementioned, the health care system in the US has an acute shortage of nursing professionals and the rise of obesity cases is detrimental. Studies have shown that over 64.5% of American adults are in danger of obesity due to overweight (Beran, 2010, p.140). Overweight is a result of the change of lifestyle among most Americans. Most jobs are now easy to handle due to the global technological advancement. As a result, many people spent most of their time in, at the comfort of their couches. Overeating is the other cause of obesity. The rise in obesity cases translates to a rise in the health risks associated with it such as high blood pressure, heart diseases, and stroke. Due to lack of proper medical attention, obesity related health risks or rather illnesses lead to the death of approximately 112,000 people per year. It is evident that obesity and obesity related illnesses are big challenges to the health care system in the United States. To address this problem, educational institutions should teach people on proper eating habits and better ways of spending their leisure time. They should also teach them the importance of doing daily exercises to reduce their weight i.e. for those who have already gained weight to critical levels.
Lack of healthy competition within various participants in the health care systems is also a challenge to the system. It has led to the rising costs of attaining the health care services as well as poor provision of the services (Porter & Teisberg, 2006, p.20) Competition is an important factor in the success of any system since it drives significant improvements in both the cost and quality of the service. It also leads to rapid innovations and diffusion of new medical technologies within the system. The diffusion and adoption of the new technologies lead to improved methodologies of tackling patients’ health care needs. Because the American health care system structure does not give room for healthy competition, the system does/and has not expanded. It has remained stagnant for a long time making it unable to meet the rapid increase in demand of health care services in the United States. The cost of adopting the new technologies in system is high in the US.
The rise of the price of drugs as well as new technologies has also impaired the efficiency of the health care system. Health institutions purchase the drugs at high prices thus the cost of their services to patients also increase. Owing to this, many Americans are unable to access health care services. They wonder why the costs are increasing at such a high rate yet the government spends most of its revenue on the health care systems. The issue is very serious since in every thirty seconds in the US someone seeks bankruptcy due to health concerns. In addition, nearly 1.5 million people lose their homes annually due to their inability to meet medical costs (Farrell, 2009, p.22). In response to the escalating costs of drugs and technologies, pharmaceutical companies have gained control over the heath care system in an attempt to market their products. Pharmaceutical representatives convince physicians to use some prescriptions to get a high sales volume of their products. Consequently, the doctors end up adopting certain drugs, which are neither cheapest nor the most effective in the treatment of patients. The health care system, unknowingly give patients some services that are not the best in addressing a certain illness. Studies have shown that nearly 100,000 Americans die of improper medical prescription/errors each year. If doctors would use their professionalism to acquire and give proper prescriptions, this problem would be an issue of the past in the American health care system.
The health care system of the United States is facing several challenges. They include lack of enough nursing professionals, high numbers of uninsured individual in the society, high costs of drugs and medical technologies, as well as the increase of lifestyle-based illnesses such as diabetes. To enhance the proper functioning of the system, the US government should embark on restructuring the system. It should come up with a policy to guide this process. The policy should entail the strategies to lower the cost of health care services, increase the number of nursing professionals, provide insurance cover to all the Americans, as well as restructure the system to allow for competition within the sector. Owing to this, all the Americans will achieve adequate health care services at affordable costs.
Beran, H. (2010). How can we Build Skills to transform the health care System? Journal of Research in Nursing, 15(2), 139-148.
Farrell, R. (2009). America’s Health care Crisis. The Truth, a Magazine Restoring Plain Understanding, 8(5), 21-25.
Garson, A. (2010). The US health care System: Problems, Principles and Potential Solutions. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 3, 40-52.
Hunt, R. (2009). Introduction to Community Based Nursing. Philadelphia: Lippencot-Raven.
Porter, M., & Teisberg, E. (2006). Redefining Health care. Boston: Harvard Business School Press..