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The modern world has been faced with many challenges in the health care delivery system. This can be attributed mainly to the emergence of new strains of diseases and the re-emergence of diseases that were once thought to have been eradicated. As a result of climatic changes, the disease trends have been altered and every effort is being employed to find solutions to these problems. The health care professionals have thus had to invent new methods of approach towards the diseases to provide efficient care and minimize the suffering of the patients. One of the best-applied approaches is in trying to minimize the existing discrepancies between the patients’ expectation of the health care system and what can be offered or is available in our health care system (Hughes, 2008, p.21). This is intended to improve customer satisfaction to the health system which will lead to improved health-seeking behavior in the patients and increased wellness in the general population. The following essay outlines the aspirations that the consumers of health have and the reality that exists in our health care system.
Aspirations of a health care system
The basic function of a health care system is to ensure that all the sick in our society are well taken care of to reduce disease burden and deaths. This can only be achieved when an efficient health care system is in place that is able to handle the rising number of patients in our hospitals. To begin with, many patients have expected a hospital to be a comfortable place where their disease burden is reduced or dealt with permanently (Hughes, 2008, p.6). They expect comfortable waiting halls and their problems to be attended to as first as possible to minimize the pain and suffering that they undergo. As providers of health care, the medical professionals and staff are expected to be people of high integrity with maximum politeness to the patients. However, this has not been the case in many public hospitals as patients have reported uncooperative health professionals who don’t avail the much-needed information on the patient’s health. Also, some of the hospitals have reported a shortage of drugs and the patients are forced to resort to purchasing them at drug stores in the streets. Accessibility to health care to every citizen disregarding economic class is an aspiration that any government in the world hopes to achieve (The University of Maine, 2001, para.6). However, this is not the case as seen in the soaring medical bills in our private hospitals. With the economic crunch and rise in unemployment in many of the lower class societies, it is a hurdle to access even the minimal medical services. There is every hope that in the near future with reforms in health care, health insurance to all will be achieved. Humans are psychological creatures and a higher expectation that is not achieved leads to skepticism and withdrawal attitude towards the unmet goal. With increased disappointments in the health care system, the health-seeking behavior of many Americans has been affected. If proper measures are not effected in time, the morbidity of various diseases will continue increasing and this will definitely put a big burden on the health care budget.
Factors affecting the health-seeking behavior
Various sociologists have identified some factors that lead to poor utilization of health care services in a country. In relation to our nation, the following factors may be identified; socio-demographic factors which include the family size, the level of education of the parents and the occupation of the parents (Hughes, 2008, p.10). Many citizens whose occupation is lowly paid are experiencing difficulties in paying for the rising hospital bills. This results in failure to seek medical care for ailments that are thought to be ‘minor’. As a result, some have been diagnosed with serious medical conditions which unfortunately are at an advanced stage and may lead to death or chronic conditions. At the end of it, all this increases mortality or the morbidity of the said diseases. The economic status of the people and lack of an efficient social security system have put the poor to be more vulnerable to failing health status. They have decreased affordability to competent health care since their choices of the health care provider are limited. Also, they are not in a position whatsoever, to participate in decisions concerning their health. The end result of this is increased health inequalities among the different classes of people in our society.
The reality in health care
The health care system in the US has been hailed as one of the best in the world. However, with its many shortcomings becoming more visible day by day, this assertion has changed. In fact, according to Murray and Frenk (2010, para.1), the US health care system has been ranked at number 37. According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2000, p. 2), the three primary goals of a good health care system should be making the health status of all to be good, being responsive to the patients needs to meet their expectations and ensuring that there is fairness in the payment of the hospital bills. Despite health care in the US being one of the costly in the world, most people are uninsured and face hardship in paying for the bills. Whenever there is insurance coverage, there are restrictions on the choice of insurance that an employee undertakes. This has led to many people being trapped in jobs that are unsatisfying for fear to lose insurance coverage once they change jobs. On arriving at a hospital to seek medical care, there are many and tiring administrative procedures that patient and their physicians must undertake before treatment. This leads to long waiting hours and patient dissatisfaction. Finally, another reality in our health system is that the quality of the health care delivered to the patients is not consistently monitored and reported to the decision-makers (Garson, 2010, para.9). There is therefore minimal understanding of what happens on the ground by the decision and policymakers.
There exist certain discrepancies in what is aspired and what is actually happening in the health care system. Many patients view a hospital as the place where maximum comfort should be guaranteed in order to minimize their pain and suffering. The patients’ expectations include accessibility to efficient health care services to all, politeness and professionalism from the staff in the hospitals, availability of the required drugs among others. However, this is not always the case, especially in our public hospitals. Such factors have resulted in the change in the health-seeking patterns among many people in our nation. Socio-demographic and accessibility to health care are among the factors which affect our health-seeking behavior. Lack of health insurance for all is one of the major problems facing our health care system. This has led to a burden in accessing health care for many people and a change in the health-seeking patterns of different people. With the current reforms in health care, there is light at the end of the tunnel and we expect improved health care in the coming future.
Garson, A. (2010). The US Healthcare System 2010. Circulation. Web.
Hughes, M. (2008). Sociology: The Core (9th ed.) Boston: McGraw Hill.
Murray,C. & Frenk, J. (2010). Ranking 37th-Measuring the Performance of the US Health Care System. The New England Journal of Medicine. Web.
The University of Maine (2001). The US Health Care System: Best in the World, or Just the Most Expensive. Web.
World Health Organization (2000). The World Health Report 2000-Health Systems: Improving Performance. Geneva: WHO.