Thoughts about Healthcare Inequalities and the Need for Continuing Reform
The cost of healthcare in the US has caused a lot of disparities and inequalities when it comes to access to better and quality services within healthcare institutions. This high cost of healthcare, coupled with systematic failures within the American systems such as the unbalanced distribution of wealth, racism, and economic challenges, are some of the issues that have caused inequalities within the healthcare sector. When the Affordable care act was introduced in 2010, it was aimed at increasing the number of low-income earners to enroll in the medical insurance programs (Andrulis, Siddiqui, Purtle, and Duchon, 2010). Thanks to this program, close to 20 million Americans can have access to healthcare services in the US, unlike before.
From the Harvard forum video, it is reported that the majority of low-income adults preferred to go to emergency rooms because they cannot afford healthcare services in other hospitals (Harvard University, 2016). Low-income earners grapple with payments of bills and putting food on their table, which makes it hard for them to make savings. Since they cannot afford to pay insurance premiums, they get disadvantaged when it comes to getting healthcare services.
Studies have shown that medical insurance improves access to better healthcare because it allows American people to pay for their medical expenses, including the costs incurred in screening and preventive measures. There is more that needs to be done to increase the number of low-income adults who can have access to medical insurance. More reforms need to be done within the healthcare sector to bridge the gap that has been caused by inequalities in the healthcare sector.
The healthcare inequalities that have existed for so long can only be reduced by carrying out reforms and developing policies within the healthcare sector. One way of bridging this gap is through investing in the community health centers and providing them with resources that can enable them to perform their tasks within the community. Community health centers are important because they deal with issues that community members face that may hinder their state of health and well-being (Harvard University, 2016). If community centers are well funded, they can help in bridging the gap that exists in the healthcare centers by limiting the number of people who depend on the on healthcare services. Through community health centers, people can get an education on how to take care of themselves and how to prevent certain diseases. Since the community health centers improve the health and wellbeing of its members, there is a need to expand them so that they can help the majority of people who may not be privileged to have insurance covers.
Another inequality comes from doctors who do not accept Medicaid from their patients. The Medicaid system allows doctors to receive reimbursements for their services; however, sometimes the reimbursements delay, which makes some doctors and private sectors not to accept patients with Medicaid insurance. The refusal to accept Medicaid cards from patients inconveniences the majority of patients with such insurance covers because they have to look for services in hospitals that accept such services. There needs to be a reform in this area to allow patients to receive care and treatment at their convenience.
Additionally, structural systems in healthcare have also contributed to healthcare inequalities in the US. The majority of healthcare institutions are embracing diversity within their workplace in an attempt to deal with the disparity that has always existed due to cultural differences of patients. Every person is unique and should be treated with respect without showing any form of discrimination based on color, race, sex, or even gender. Healthcare institutions should cultivate a culture of providing quality healthcare services to all patients without being swayed by personal beliefs or values.
Andrulis, D. P., Siddiqui, N. J., Purtle, J., & Duchon, L. (2010). Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010: Advancing health equity for racially and ethnically diverse populations. Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
Harvard University. (2016, April 22). Health Care Inequalities in America: The Need for Continuing Reform. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nychm8M7uyM&feature=youtube
One of the major impediments to healthcare access in the US is the issue of insurance. The USA has one of the most expensive healthcare systems among developed countries around the world. However, this high cost of healthcare does not mean that it produces the best patient’s outcomes. There are many countries around the world with cheaper healthcare systems, yet their services are top-notch. The frailties within the healthcare system in the US have been exposed now more than ever during this COVID-19 pandemic as the majority of Americans continue to lose their lives because of the inequalities that exist within the healthcare system. These inequalities continue to cause disparity within the healthcare sector; hence there is a need for continued reforms to take place within the healthcare sector.
The Harvard forum video was insightful because it allowed me to have a better grasp of the inequalities that take place within the healthcare sector and how policymakers are laboring day and night to ensure that reforms are brought within the healthcare sector. One of the major reforms in the healthcare sector that has always dictated the type of care Americans receive came in the form of Medicaid and Medicare plans that were introduced in 1965 to improve the level of health accesses among low-income families as well as the elderly people. These insurance plans became a federal plan for the government to improve the healthcare sector and make it accessible to the majority of Americans. These plans were introduced because the federal government, through the ministry of health, had realized that Americans were struggling to have access to better healthcare.
In 2010, the Obama administration came up with the Affordable Care Act, which has since improved the accessibility of healthcare services among millions of low-income Americans (Kino and Kawachi, 2018). The “Obamacare” as it is famously known has received backlashes and support alike because it has helped in increasing the number of low-income adults who can enroll in the insurance plans. However, regardless of this increase, there are still millions of Americans who cannot have access to quality healthcare, and instead, they opt for emergency room services. Studies have shown that low-income Americans would opt to go to emergency rooms more frequently than Americans from higher social classes. This is not an issue of preference but an issue of healthcare inequality.
The disparity in care has also been brought due to structural biases and discriminations that affects most systems in the US. The minority groups and people of color continue to receive low health coverage because the system has failed in promoting equitable access to resources, employment, and education, among other factors. As a result, minority groups continue to suffer.
There is a need for continuing reforms to be done within the healthcare sector. If possible, a universal healthcare system should be used where care is provided to all citizens equally without discriminating against any group of people. One of the recommendations that came from the Harvard forum is that healthcare insurance should be expanded and community health centers to be increased so that more people can have access to healthcare services in the US (Harvard University, 2016). Community health centers provide comprehensive healthcare services, which makes them ideal for closing the gap that has been caused by inequalities. Moreover, the forum also mentioned the need for urgent care centers to be expanded so that Americans have access to cheaper services rather than going to expensive emergency rooms. Additionally, Medicaid issues should also be resolved so that the people that have the Medicaid cards can have access to healthcare services without being turned away by institutions or healthcare providers that do not accept Medicaid.
Harvard University. (2016, April 22). Health Care Inequalities in America: The Need for Continuing Reform. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nychm8M7uyM&feature=youtu.be
Kino, S., & Kawachi, I. (2018). The impact of ACA Medicaid expansion on socioeconomic inequality in health care services utilization. PloS one, 13(12), e0209935
All replies must be constructive and use literature where possible.
Your assignment will be graded according to the grading rubric.