Unlike other developed nations such as Germany, the United States does not have a universal healthcare system. Most of the implemented policies have not been able to improve the effectiveness of the country’s health sector. Consequently, the common consensus in the nation is that the healthcare system should be fixed to meet the needs of the increasing number of citizens. Becker and Gamble (2015) believe strongly that economic experts in the country have continued to ignore the problems facing the health industry. This research paper gives a detailed analysis of the major economic issues that continue to confront the United States’ healthcare industry. The paper suggests appropriate economic-based strategies that can be used to tackle these issues.
Description of the Issues
The first economic issue that is expected to affect the healthcare industry in the future is decreased funding (Keegan, Thomas, Normand, & Portela, 2012). Healthcare institutions are currently receiving reduced funds from private sectors, public programs, and the government. The availability of funds is an economic issue that dictates the effectiveness of a nation’s healthcare system. The lack of funds is determined by the economic aspects of the nation. Many patients no longer receive timely and adequate healthcare services in the country.
The second concern arises from the problem of unemployment in the United States. This issue has led to an increased number of uninsured citizens. Unemployed individuals “no longer have company-funded insurance covers” (Keith, Lucia, & Corlette, 2013, p. 4). The number of families unable to pay for health services is on the rise. The economic indicators in the United States show conclusively that more people might be uninsured in the future.
The pharmaceutical industry is currently dictating the availability of drugs and prescription medicines. Mosadeghrad (2014) argues that more players in the industry have become extremely greedy. They have inflated costs for various drugs. The economic factors of production and research have been outlined as the major issues influencing this trend. Every patient getting health services from a health institution is therefore forced to incur numerous costs for various drugs.
The other economic issue that has continued to impact the sustainability of the American healthcare sector is the shortage of medical staff (Keegan et al., 2012). This challenge emerges from the problem of reduced funding. The country is currently facing a shortage of nurses, caregivers, and physicians. The economic problem will affect the effectiveness of the industry in the future. Nurses and medical practitioners are usually forced to work for longer hours in different healthcare settings. This practice has led to increased medication errors, burnout, and the availability of inadequate healthcare services.
The use of modern informatics is something that has taken center stage in the global healthcare sector. The economic implication of healthcare technology is something that cannot be underestimated (Becker & Gamble, 2015). The acquisition of different equipment is something that has the potential to improve healthcare delivery. However, the acquisition of these new technologies is usually expensive for many healthcare institutions. Citizens will also be forced to incur numerous expenses in an attempt to receive quality medical care. The economic attributes associated with the acquisition of health technology will, therefore, have diverse implications on the United States’ healthcare sector.
Economic Effects of the Issues on Healthcare Industry
The above issues will present numerous economic effects on the country’s healthcare industry. The lack of funding is something that is should not be ignored. Health financing by different private entities and the government has remained extremely low. This has mainly been caused by increasing health care demands and the emergence of complex medical conditions (Keith et al., 2013). Out-of-pocket expenses have remained inequitable in this nation. Many people have been exposed to increased burdens.
The American healthcare system should be financed and supported throughout the continuous investment. Such measures can dictate the effectiveness of various healthcare delivery processes (Mosadeghrad, 2014). The government has other issues to fund such as homeland security and welfare programs (Becker & Gamble, 2015). That being the case, more people will be forced to cater to their healthcare needs. This practice might expose more weaknesses and eventually result in inequality.
The acquisition of modern technologies for improved healthcare delivery required more finances. The technology should be guided by research and development. More often than not, pioneers of such technological equipment have to engage in continuous research. Hospitals that want to embrace the use of such equipment will incur numerous costs (Amer, 2013). This development can result in increased healthcare spending for many patients. This example shows conclusively that the government will have to increase its budgetary allocations for the healthcare sector (Keegan et al., 2012). Private institutions might decide to acquire such technologies and increase healthcare costs.
The shortage of nurses and doctors is another problem facing the healthcare industry. This issue is expected to present a wide range of economic impacts. For example, the government does not have appropriate mechanisms to hire and retain more healthcare workers due to a lack of funds (Mosadeghrad, 2014). The government might decide to change its fiscal policies in an attempt to address this issue. The move will have significant economic implications. More institutions are unable to hire more workers. This gap has affected the quality of healthcare services available to many patients.
The economic implications of scientific researches aimed at producing new drugs cannot be ignored. Extensive research is usually needed before producing any new drug (Keith et al., 2013). Unfortunately, the costs “incurred by pharmaceutical companies are usually passed on to the consumer” (Shopcheck, 2016, p. 7). At the same time, pharmaceutical companies have become extremely greedy. These new developments have significantly affected the country’s Medicaid and Medicare systems. Many doctors in the country no longer accept patients covered by these programs. These issues will continue to have negative impacts on the welfare of many American citizens. Similarly, more people will be unable to receive quality medical services and drugs because they are becoming unaffordable.
Lack of employment in the country is a major economic indicator. Many people in the country do not have insurance cover. The ultimate goal of insurance companies is to increase their profits. People with preexisting medical conditions might not receive insurance coverage from the major insurers in the country (Amer, 2013). The issue of unemployment increases the number of uncovered children and disabled persons. It is agreeable that more families in the country will remain vulnerable to different illnesses (Shopcheck, 2016). Experts have projected that the rate of unemployment in the nation will increase significantly in the future. Consequently, the number of uninsured people will increase and eventually affect the quality of their living conditions.
Addressing the Above Issues
The major stakeholders in the American healthcare sector can embrace various economic strategies to deal with each of the above issues affecting the industry. To begin with, funding is the major economic issue disorienting the effectiveness of the sector. Many hospitals and healthcare institutions focus on shareholders’ needs (Keegan et al., 2012). The government lacks adequate measures to fund the country’s healthcare effectively. The government and private funders in healthcare can allocate more funds. Such funds will be used to improve healthcare standards in the actions. Additionally, more healthcare workers will be employed to meet the needs of different patients. The government can revise its fiscal policy to collect enough money and eventually support the healthcare industry. Private investors should be encouraged to support and fund the sector (Amer, 2013). By so doing, the unique challenges arising from financial constraints will be addressed adequately.
Unemployment has remained high in the country than ever before. This problem has led to an increasing number of uninsured families. Different stakeholders have the potential to transform this health problem. The first initiative is for the government to identify new job opportunities for its citizens (Mosadeghrad, 2014). New programs aimed at improving the employability skills of more American citizens will play a positive role in reducing the number of uninsured people. New health insurance covers can be developed to meet the needs of the affected citizens. Healthcare institutions can implement new policies targeting uninsured patients. The provision of quality services at subsidized rates will ensure more people have access to quality care.
As mentioned earlier, the problem of staff shortage has numerous economic implications for the healthcare industry. The lack of healthcare workers affects the quality of services available to many citizens. With enough funding, the government and other key players will find it easier to tackle this problem (Mosadeghrad, 2014). Healthcare institutions can also come up with adequate measures to reemploy retired medical practitioners. They can also use their resources to hire and train more nurse aids (Amer, 2013). When the number of nurses and physicians in hospitals increases, more patients will have access to timely health services.
The role of pharmaceutical firms in healthcare delivery is a complicated one. On one hand, pharmaceutical companies manufacture drugs capable of treating a wide range of diseases. They also invest a lot of resources to produce quality medicines. However, drugs are usually expensive and unaffordable for many people. It will be appropriate for the government and different stakeholders to focus on preventative measures to deal with the problems arising from the greed of such pharmaceutical companies. For instance, such players can incur minimal expenses to come up with preventive measures for diseases such as cancer, malaria, and tuberculosis (Shopcheck, 2016). New campaigns focusing on positive health habits and practices can guide more people to embrace desirable behaviors. By so doing, minimal expenses will be incurred while at the same time preventing most of the infections affecting the nation’s population. The strategy will reduce most of the expenses incurred whenever acquiring different drugs. As a result, the medical industry will eventually realize its goals.
The other approach towards improving the effectiveness of the industry is through collaboration to minimize incurred whenever acquiring different health technologies. State governments can allocate more resources to acquire different equipment. Policymakers can come up with better legal frameworks to promote the use of the internet. This approach will ensure more people use various internet-based platforms to improve their competencies in healthcare. The federal government can fund most of the projects capable of producing better equipment for the healthcare sector (Keegan et al., 2012). The collaboration will ensure the major stakeholders support different projects. Consequently, advanced equipment will be available at cheaper costs and transform the health outcomes of more citizens in the country.
Best Economic Practices for the United States
Different countries such as Singapore and Germany have managed to develop and sustain their healthcare systems. The approach has minimized most of the challenges affecting the sector. The problems of unemployment and reduced funding continue to affect the healthcare industry. In Germany, for example, employee and employer financing has played a positive role in protecting the health needs of many citizens (Roeder, 2012). The United States should consider this insurance model whereby employers cater to the needs of their workers. Unemployed individuals should be provided with subsidized healthcare services. Alternatively, a universal coverage program can be implemented to ensure every person has appropriate health insurance. This approach has worked successfully in Germany thus making it one of the countries with admirable healthcare systems.
Stakeholders in the country’s health sector can focus on the idea of collaboration to come up with evidence-based incentives that can address the problems affecting the industry (Roeder, 2012). This practice has been embraced in Germany to minimize the major challenges facing the sector. This approach will ensure pharmaceutical companies involve different players whenever producing new drugs. The players can share costs and eventually reduce the expenses incurred by consumers.
The government can achieve positive results by endorsing and supporting a universal health program for its citizens. This system will ensure every citizen is capable of getting quality health services. Underage children and disabled persons can be covered under their parents’ insurance policies (Shopcheck, 2016). This strategy has supported the health needs of many people in the country (Mosadeghrad, 2014). When the US adopts such a system, employers and government-based programs will cater to the health expenses of many citizens.
Pharmaceutical companies appear to be benefiting from the healthcare issues affecting the nation. The drugs produced and marketed by these firms are usually expensive. Doctors and healthcare practitioners have also liaised with these firms to market-specific medicines. It would be appropriate for insurance companies to cater for drugs (Mosadeghrad, 2014). This means that patients in the United States will be required to pay a small fraction of the drug costs. This approach has been applied successfully in Germany.
The above issues show conclusively that more patients in the United States will encounter numerous challenges in the future (Marchildon, 2013). This happens to be the case because nursing shortage, increased costs for drugs, and lack of funds will affect the effectiveness of the health industry. One of the best economic strategies that can minimize the impacts of these issues can be obtained from the universal health system adopted in Canada. In this country, educational programs are implemented to educate more citizens about the best health promotion practices. The government uses powerful programs to educate seniors and disabled people to avoid accidents. Such programs make it easier for more Canadians to live longer and stay healthier (Marchildon, 2013). The United States’ healthcare system can be supported using a similar strategy. The economic benefits of such a program cannot be underestimated. The number of people affected by injuries and preventable diseases will decrease significantly.
Funding should focus on the critical areas of the healthcare system. In different countries such as Singapore and Canada, the government funds primary care to support the wellbeing of more people (Marchildon, 2013). The funds can be used to purchase modern equipment for tackling various diseases such as cancer. These diseases have led to increased death rates in the country. The focus on such medical practices and resources will minimize most of the economic issues disorienting the healthcare industry.
It will be appropriate for different stakeholders in the healthcare system to identify adequate measures that have the potential to address the barriers to adequate healthcare delivery. The government should revise its budgetary allocations for healthcare to ensure every American citizen has access to equality medical services (Mosadeghrad, 2014). With proper decision-making and focus on emerging economic issues in healthcare, the government will make insurance cover universal (Roeder, 2012). By so doing, every citizen in the nation will be able to afford drugs and get quality medical care.
Likelihood of the Private Sector and the Government Effectively Addressing these Issues
This discussion outlines universal health coverage as one of the best measures towards mitigating most of the issues facing the industry. This approach will ensure every American citizen gets quality and evidence-based health support from the leading providers of care (Schoen, 2016). The strategy will ensure more employers are part of the problem and willing to support the new system. Private healthcare providers will also implement new practices to streamline the healthcare delivery process. Unfortunately, the government and other private sector players might be opposed to this move (Santilli & Vogenberg, 2015). This is the case because they tend to have their unique interests. It is agreeable that politicians have dictated the history of the country’s healthcare system (Marchildon, 2013). That being the case, it would be impossible to rely on these politicians. This is the case because the elected representatives tend to focus on the interests of private investors.
The private sector has always focused on maximizing shareholder value and profits in this country (Keith et al., 2013). This goal explains why different players fail to implement powerful policies and action plans that have the potential to support the changing needs of many patients. The government has been reluctant to increase funding for the healthcare sector. Specific groups have been observed to have their unique interests (Schoen, 2016). This problem explains why pharmaceutical and technological pioneers have worsened the position of the healthcare system. The government has also failed to put in place powerful measures to tackle the problem of unemployment.
This discussion shows conclusively that the government and the private sector are far from addressing these issues. It would require a complete paradigm shift whereby every stakeholder will be willing to be part of the problem and eventually address the economic issues affecting the system. New economic incentives and economic-oriented policies will be needed to deal with these issues (Santilli & Vogenberg, 2015). Policymakers and private players will need to consider some of the best practices from countries such as Germany, Singapore, and Canada. These initiatives will ensure the country is closer to dealing with the economic trends that continue to impact its healthcare sector.
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