The health system or healthcare system includes organizations, institutions, and resources that participate in the process of providing health care services to the population. The healthcare system is one of the most important aspects of modern life, which serves as the central part of the foundation for humanity’s progress, productivity and overall wellbeing. However, because there are many countries with different economic conditions, there are also several types of healthcare systems across the world. While health systems, in general, are developed individually considering the peculiarities of the country’s social, cultural, and economic climate, there always is room for improvement. This essay will evaluate current problems in the health system of the United States to decide which one needs to be solved in the first place and what measures could be taken to create the change.
First, one of the primary problems in the US health system is its financial component. Health services in the US are costly, which has a negative impact on the overall population’s health and average life expectancy. Due to the high interference of insurance companies, the treatment process could be delayed, while the development of serious illness could significantly worsen the patient’s financial state. Moreover, as insurance is closely connected to employment, it creates a barrier in access for disadvantaged groups of the population. In particular, healthcare access is reduced among the poor population and people of color. Therefore, the financial aspect of the healthcare system results in the creation of healthcare disparities. While making healthcare services free for all people is a rather radical approach to the problem, at least taking care of disadvantaged groups with limited access to healthcare would significantly improve the overall level of public health.
Next, a significant problem of the healthcare system in the US is the understaffed workforce. The problem of an understaffed healthcare workforce was highlighted and became significantly worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of staff shortage, the existing staff is constantly overworked, which results in increased cases of medical errors that negatively influence the overall quality of health services. In addition, the turnover rates in the healthcare industry are rising as overworked personnel starts having mental struggles that often end with professional burnout. Furthermore, high turnover rates cause increased workloads and negative changes in the work environment climate, supporting hostile attitudes from experienced staff towards the newcomers. The pandemic emphasized how essential healthcare services are for society; the change in the situation with staff shortage in the healthcare system could be vital to society.
Lastly, the healthcare system in the US is vastly influenced by the pressure from pharmaceutical companies. The United States is known to have more prescription drug spending than the rest of the world. Patented drugs are protected, which means that there should be no alternatives, and the level of competition is reduced. In order to return the investments spent on researches and development and to ensure the shareholders’ income, drug manufacturing companies set high prices for their products. Moreover, the healthcare system focuses on using drugs and prescribed medications for treatment as their use is more beneficial to the insurance companies than other non-drug options. Thus, revising the terms of patent rights for pharmaceutical companies could improve the healthcare system’s financial aspect and solve the issue of the population in the United States being over-medicated with prescription drugs.
Furthermore, comparing the three problems discussed in the paper, one could notice that creating the change in cases of staff shortage or making healthcare services more accessible requires significant amounts of resources. The staff shortage problem cannot be solved in a short period, and making healthcare services more accessible will not eliminate the chance for an individual to go bankrupt in case of serious illness. However, two problems discussed in the paper could be connected through the financial aspect. As mentioned before, healthcare services are very expensive, and one of the components of price is the cost of medication. Reducing the price for prescription drugs and promoting non-drug alternatives for treatment could lead to lower prices on healthcare services and make them more accessible without rebuilding the system. Moreover, creating the change, in this case, requires a precise set of actions directed to revising the terms of prescription drug patents.
In conclusion, if I could change one thing in the United States’ healthcare system, I would try to make health services more accessible by reducing the prices for drugs and medications. In my opinion, pharmaceutical companies misuse patent protection to benefit the interest of their shareholders when they should focus on the protection of people’s wellbeing. Through revising the terms of patents protection, the government could prevent the pharmaceutical companies from setting unfounded high prices. Moreover, by increasing the control of the patenting process, the government could ensure that all perception drug prices are justified. Lastly, I assume that this change will influence the overall costs level for healthcare services and make them more accessible, increasing the population’s health and making society more equal.