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Dying Breaths: The Progression and Regression of the US Healthcare System

Regardless of your political leaning, the US healthcare system is in need of a major overhaul. However, at the moment, even our approach to solving it is hotly contested. On one hand lies faith in a bigger government, while on the other lies belief in privatization. On one side stands the abdication of responsibility to the states to do as they see fit, and on the other lies the appointment of liability to a federal power. All of these issues have been pivotal to America’s development as a nation, and will remain vital as they come together in the modern healthcare debate.

PERSONAL INTEREST

While new to the subject of healthcare, I have always been intrigued by what I believe to be its essential question: What is the best way to serve a large amount of people given limited resources? As a soon-to-be voter and taxpayer, I aim to look at the healthcare system’s past deficiencies and triumphs, so I may become a more conversant citizen. During this philosophical venture, I would like to assiduously analyze the proposed solutions to healthcare’s current problems, as well as ultimately offer up a unique solution of my own.

WHY IS IT SO CHALLENGING FOR US TO FIX HEALTHCARE?

The problems in healthcare all stem from the problem that providing high-quality medical service to all people is close to impossible. The proposed solutions to this problem are wide and varied in the ideologies they seek to solve it with, which may cause yet another problem as a result of the generally uncompromising nature of each side in pursuing their proposed solution to the problem.

PAST APPROACHES TO HEALTHCARE

The origins of the problem date back to the early 1900s, and came along with the beginnings of healthcare use by the wider population itself. According to one source from 1914, health insurance was always likely to become a point of conflict between the physicians who provided medical care and the insurance providers who paid for it in the ways patients use health insurance and are funded to use it, claiming that in healthcare the problem of administering its usage was a “most baffling” issue that was intermittently tied to this overarching problem (Corwin). Furthermore, even before the expansive growth of healthcare to reach a majority of the population, people still worried about the inclination of those seeking specialists to look for them not “from the dispensaries” but instead the “private offices of physicians” – in other words the likelihood that people would try to chose their own specialists unless the system had been sufficiently organized otherwise; as well as what it meant for the healthcare industry going forward (Corwin).



MODERN APPROACHES TO HEALTHCARE

At present, problems of healthcare occur mostly as a result of conflict in the private vs. federal model, not covering enough people well enough, and lacking equity of care. While there have been many attempts to deal with this problem and its manifestations thus far, none have been entirely successful. The most notable of these attempts is the Affordable Care Act, which was a law passed in 2010 that prevented the practice of discrimination based on patient health and standardized the healthcare market to force suppliers to offer at least a base level of care to be able to sell their product to consumers (Gruber). Furthermore, it succeeded in decreasing the number of people who were uninsured, going from 16% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2015 (Obama). However, it remains a failure in other respects, mainly as it is neither an all-encompassing system or one with sufficient internalized competition (Obama). In 2016, 12% of program enrollees lived in areas with only 1 or 2 insurers, which typically does not incentivize providers to administer better, cheaper services, because in markets with insufficient competition they have no need to do so. (Obama) Obama further suggests adding a public plan to compete with these private plans and convince them to provide better products for the consumers, by using the risk that they could all go over to the public plan.

CALL TO ACTION!

In order to best tackle such systemically encroaching problems, we must first and foremost be conscientious and meticulous in how we influence those around us. Addressing this point, one paper suggests we hold considerable power as individuals to initiate change in the organizations we work in, and goes so far as to claim that if enough individuals labored to promote change in how their institutions operated, it would become the single best macro level change in bettering our healthcare system as a whole.

THE MACRO SOLUTION

I believe this kind of system would be optimally beneficial because it allows for compromise between the government, which is a central agency that can bear the cost of the system and the private sector, which provided it has enough competition among its members will, at least according to free market theory will allow for both the highest quality and the cheapest goods, provided there is sufficient competition between the corporations that exist within it (Schnurer). However, to ensure the free market can be kept reasonably competitive, I would propose a government care alternative, which may not necessarily be widespread and used by all but would be made cheap and affordable to always provide an alternative to using the corporations, to control monopolies in regions of the country that would otherwise not experience competition (Obama, Gruber).

Bibliography

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Part 8: Personal Video

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