For ages, insurance companies and politicians have vehemently proclaimed that the US healthcare system is perhaps the best of its kind in the whole world. However, as its fatal flaws unfolded, the unfaltering faith of 42 million Americans in the entire system was badly shaken. There are scores of Americans, who are without proper health insurance. This gives vent to the fact that the American healthcare system may not be entirely invincible, infallible, as claimed by the healthcare pundits and political bigwigs. Astronomical healthcare costs, coupled with lack of access, pose a major threat to the US government. People are slowly coming to terms with this hard reality. Instead of taking the bull by its horns and addressing the problem head-on, the US government has been either shoving it under the carpet or proposing short-term, patch-work solution.
According to the comparative studies, conducted on the healthcare systems of various countries, the determinants of a good healthcare system are essentially its responsiveness and the extent to which it guarantees good health and financial protection to everyone. A sound, stable and unprejudiced healthcare system will, therefore, ensure:
i) Optimal good-health and an even distribution of the same across every population groups
ii) Even distribution of financing healthcare amongst all Americans, irrespective of class, creed, gender, race, age and color
iii) Tremendous, overall responsiveness and a fair distribution of the same in the society
The US healthcare, off late, falls short of everything that makes a sound, cost-effective, reasonably user-friendly and accessible healthcare system. Owing to the consistently rising costs of medical technology and prescription drugs, US boasts of the most expensive healthcare in the world. Moreover, the shift from not-for-profit providers to for-profit providers has triggered an abrupt rise in healthcare costs by a whopping percentage. The administrative costs at for-profit hospitals also attribute to the phenomenal healthcare spending. A large chunk of uninsured American population has also added to the woes, necessitating expensive healthcare.
US is the world’s only developed, industrialized country that does not promise universal healthcare coverage to all its citizens. Although quite a few employers take pains to insure their employees and the Government specifically offers insurance coverage to senior citizens (Medicare), the military as well as the unprivileged and disabled, a vast majority of the population still remains uninsured, wallowing in the woes, inflicted by this apparent “non-system”.
Lack of insurance coverage can pose a serious threat to a particular segment of the American population that does not have any access to the basic amenities of life, let alone a decent healthcare system. This shambolic system creates a gnawing gap in the coverage, which is hard to seal. As insurance rates go up, employers cannot help but stop their insurance benefits altogether and those who do not, are compelled to raise premiums and deductibles.
The US healthcare reform is indisputably a welcome relief, in these uncertain times. It will make healthcare accessible to millions of Americans, who have been regularly putting their health on hold because they cannot afford basic treatment or even the co-payment of a routine physical. The healthcare bill is believed to benefit more than 95% of legal American citizens. Even, those who have lost their jobs to recession and unfavorable times, will be able to make the best use of their coverage.
Giving unprecedented, uninhibited access to healthcare also beckons one pressing problem that all Americans have to brace for, whether they want to be covered or not. The dark clouds of recession have lifted from the face of America, with the nation successfully and bravely riding out tough times. However, it will be a “hard slog” for politicians to recover the money, lost during the credit crunch, in order to finance their health insurance scheme. This may lead the Government to consider increasing the tax of the US citizens in general and even, many businesses. As a result, people, who are not covered, can wind up paying more taxes than the ones, who are insured.
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