In the modern world, statistics indicates that the United States of America is the leading spender on healthcare. In addition, the costs of healthcare continue to increase every year. According to government statistics, the nation spent some 1.9 trillion dollars in 2004 alone, which represents an approximate 16% of the nation’s total GDP (Holtz 103).
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In fact, America spends more than 5,000 dollars per person per year, while other countries like Japan and Switzerland spends a mere $2,000 and $3,500 per person respectively. Despite this, a large number of people remain uninsured, while others cannot access good healthcare services (Holtz 102).
So, what are the causes of these problems? The purpose of this discussion is to review the root problems affecting the healthcare system in the United States of America. The paper argues that malpractices within the healthcare system, business nature of the insurance companies and policies and minimal government involvement are the primary causes of the problem.
Malpractices in healthcare system as a cause of America’s high cost of healthcare
Currently, the American healthcare system is ridden with a number of malpractices that tend to affect the provision of services. For instance, Americans have to pay implausible amounts of money for insurance services, yet most of these resources are required to cover for malpractice insurance.
The use of expensive and new technologies in an effort to achieve faster and effective diagnoses and treatments of diseases increases the amounts of money needed to cover the healthcare (Congressional Budget Office 9). Although opponents argue that Americans get better and effective services, data from more than 30 countries indicate that the US has less physicians and hospital beds per patient compared to some European nations such as Italy, Austria and France (Holtz 107).
Secondly, American doctors and other healthcare professionals are more involved in malpractice than in any other country. For example, the American insurance law does not provide a limit on the amount of money a doctor can be sued for, which means that the amounts needed to meet the cost of these malpractices are passed on to the patients. This is an automatic and obvious cause of high cost of healthcare in the US (Congressional Budget Office 9).
Moreover, doctors and other healthcare professionals tend to fear being sued for getting high salary for doing too little. To overcome this fear, they tend to do too much. For instance, doctors are faced with costly lawsuits in their work if they are sued for doing too little (Holtz 111).
Therefore, they normally recommend their patients to undergo extra or extremely high tests or prescribe extra drugs, which in most cases are seemingly unnecessary. In this case, the doctors are safe from expensive lawsuits, but the patients end up paying for high cost but unnecessary services.
It is surprising to note that a good number of surgeries carried out in American hospitals are costly yet unnecessary as per the prevailing conditions. For instance, doctors in America are paid more for performing surgeries and less for using drugs in managing certain diseases and conditions.
To get the extra money, doctors end up performing surgeries, even in cases where generic drugs would have worked equally better. According to Holtz (117), patients who had undergone heart surgeries fared almost the same as those who obtained therapeutic interventions with generic drugs. This is an indication that Americans normally pay much for services they actually do not require.
Business Nature of Insurance as a cause of high cost of insurance services
In the US, healthcare insurers are merely business organizations interested in making profits than in providing the best possible healthcare services to the people. For instance, American insurers tend to spend more on administrative costs than on healthcare services offered to clients. Insurers have high number of employees, and executives. Normally, these individuals receive high salaries, especially for a nation where GDP and cost of living is high. Unfortunately, patients have to meet all these expenses.
Just like American doctors, healthcare insurers enjoy dealing with expensive services, most of which are unnecessary. For example, insurers tend to pay for treatments than for disease prevention and mitigation (Sullivan 108). They enjoy paying for serious and complex treatment services such as surgeries, while the amounts of money they pay for prevention services are less significant. After all, they are interested in making money.
Minimal government involvement as a cause of the problem
Being a capitalistic nation, the US government is minimally involved in healthcare provision; despite the large economy it controls (Sullivan 107). American healthcare facilities and services are more or less run by business minded people and institutions, whose main purpose is to make good profits. The government has collaborated with the private sector in insurance and healthcare provision. Evidently, the government is interested in the tax it gains from these institutions than the quality and cost of services its people gain.
From a review of American healthcare system, it is evident that the high cost of healthcare services is actually a product of its inherent nature. The system allows malpractices within the healthcare provision. Secondly, the insurance providers are business minded, while the government is minimally involved in the control and provision of healthcare services.
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Congressional Budget Office. Rising healthcare costs: causes, implications, and strategies. New York, NY: Congressional Budget Office, 2001. Print.
Holtz, Carol. Global healthcare: Issues and polices. New York, NY: Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2012. Print
Sullivan, Kip. The Healthcare Mess: How We Got Into It and How Well Get Out of It. Washington, DC: AuthorHouse, 2006. Print