The American Healthcare System: The Cost of Access and Affordability
The United States of America is known for its technological advancements and the highest GDP in the world. However, when it comes to healthcare, the United States ranks 37th in the world according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Healthcare is a human right, yet millions of Americans do not have access to quality healthcare, and those who do have to pay exorbitant prices for it. In this blog post, we will go over the cost of access and affordability in the American healthcare system.
The Cost of Access:
The healthcare system in the United States is predominantly employer-based. This implies that if you want health insurance that covers the majority of your medical expenses, you need to be employed by an employer who offers this benefit. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, 47.4% of non-elderly Americans are covered by employer-based health insurance. This leaves more than half of the population either uninsured or underinsured. The issue of access to healthcare is especially prevalent among lower-income individuals and racial minorities. According to the Census Bureau, in 2019, 9.2% of the population was uninsured, and the percentage was higher among Hispanics (16.8%) and Blacks (9.6%) compared to Whites (5.2%). Lack of access to healthcare exacerbates health disparities and leads to higher morbidity and mortality rates among these populations.
The Cost of Affordability:
Even those Americans who have health insurance are not immune to the high cost of healthcare. Deductibles, co-payments, and coinsurance are out-of-pocket expenses that are not covered by insurance plans. According to the Commonwealth Fund, 44% of Americans are either uninsured or underinsured. High out-of-pocket costs prevent people from seeking medical care, which leads to more severe health issues down the line. Moreover, many drugs that are commonly prescribed for chronic diseases such as insulin for diabetes or inhalers for asthma are expensive and unaffordable for a significant portion of the population. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, 29% of adults in the U.S. have not taken their medication as prescribed due to the high cost of medication.
There is no easy solution to fix the healthcare system in the United States. However, some solutions that can be implemented to improve the system’s affordability and accessibility include:
- Implementing a universal healthcare system that provides comprehensive coverage for all residents.
- Regulating pharmaceutical prices to prevent monopolies and ensure that drugs are affordable for all.
- Increasing funding for community health centers in low-income areas to improve access to healthcare for underserved populations.
- Introducing price transparency to make it easier for patients to compare prices and select the most affordable option.
In conclusion, the American healthcare system is in dire need of reform. Millions of Americans do not have access to quality healthcare, and those who do have to pay exorbitant prices for it. The issue of access to healthcare is especially prevalent among lower-income individuals and racial minorities. High out-of-pocket costs prevent people from seeking medical care, which leads to worse health outcomes. Implementing a universal healthcare system, regulating pharmaceutical prices, increasing funding for community health centers, and introducing price transparency are just a few policy solutions that can help improve the cost of access and affordability in the American healthcare system.
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