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Disparities in the United States’ health care system emanate from a complex mixture of institutional inequality and problems linked to historical issues. The various segments of health variations include socioeconomic wellbeing, region, race, and ethnicity among others. Therefore, it is fundamental for policymakers to understand the issue in the proper context and focus on establishing solutions that emphasize health security for all Americans regardless of socioeconomic status.
Besides, the United States’ efforts to alleviate differences should be incorporated into the plan to reform health care by promoting the quality of care provided to the individual patient. The purpose of this paper is to explore the overuse of psychotropic medications among children. This paper suggests that prescribers of psychotropic drugs use socioeconomic status to overprescribe medications to a certain group of individuals. To address the prescription issues to eliminate prescription targeting certain individuals, the US Congress developed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 (Cutler, 2015).
In most cases, children who are overprescribed with psychotropic medications happen to live under foster care or in poverty-stricken backgrounds. Many of these children have encountered neglect and abuse, but this aspect does not warrant the over-prescription of such drugs. Research indicates that this trend has been motivated by unscrupulous practices by pharmaceutical companies to make profits (Huefner & Griffith, 2014).
Statistics indicate that many children joining foster care are likely to come from poor families. Low socioeconomic status is often linked to poor access to quality health care and the lack of healthcare education. These disparities have led to unequal healthcare opportunities, thus, exposing the less privileged children to malicious medical practices. Furthermore, poor families are most likely to be insured. In 2010, the US Congress sought to address this issue, and it passed the ACA (Cutler, 2015). Essentially, this Act was developed to reinforce the Minority Health and Health Disparities of Research and Education Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-525) in eliminating biased medical practices.
Following the increased rate of psychotropic prescription among children from poor backgrounds, health policies have become a vital tool to ensure proper practices. The significance of the ACA is to eliminate disparities in various ways. For instance, ACA seeks to increase insurance coverage to as many Americans as possible. Insurance cover and quality care in the US focus mostly on minority patients. Significant gaps in health care among children in the US are associated with socioeconomic status and the lack of medical covers (Koh, Graham, & Glied, 2011). In most cases, prescribers manifest ingrained interests when prescribing psychotropic medications.
Children from poor families are overprescribed intentionally to ensure more sales of psychotropic medications. Equality has remained a key factor in the medical field for many decades. Since social status aspects cannot be used to exploit certain individuals, policymakers must lay guidelines to promote public health measures that target to bridge the disparities in care
Positions and Recommendations
To eliminate disparities in the contemporary healthcare provision in the US, four aspects need to be considered when planning to improve service delivery. First, patients must be prioritized when seeking to improve health care. More attention should be aimed at alleviating the drivers of biased medical practices such as poverty, the lack of education, and social status. The policy framework should be designed to benefit all patients.
There should not be any form of discrimination. Besides, quality care should be availed equally regardless of socioeconomic or racial status. Education programs should be developed to create awareness for patients. Patients should possess some knowledge regarding the kind of prescription they get and have the expertise to probe for any information they deem necessary (Woolf & Braveman, 2011).
Second, professionals should deliver care services within the set legal and ethical framework. Professionals should ensure high-quality prescription to all patients. However, the patients should abide by the given recommendations. Continued training is essential for providers to ensure that they are aware of the evolving medical practices (Barr, 2008). Professionals dealing with children at care facilities should be aware of the potential abuse of psychotropic medications in this patient population. Therefore, it is necessary for these professionals to rely on evidence-based approaches in acquiring enough data for a prescription.
Third, the payer must ensure the financial sustainability of the care system. The designed policy framework relies on the payer to operationalize effectively. Financial experts caution against poor funding on healthcare facilities since it could derail the plan to help patients get quality services (Andrulis & Siddiqui, 2011). The payer should provide sufficient funding to facilitate evidence-based practices before exposing children to psychiatric medications.
Furthermore, the payer should invest in research to identify if there is any relationship between poverty and psychiatric conditions. Social environment and economic status should not be used as indicators for a psychiatric condition. Lastly, the policymakers should set the platform upon which the professionals in the healthcare sector and patients interact. Professionals and payers should be controlled by these policies. Further research to understand disparities in health care, and particularly over-prescription of psychotropic drugs, is needed.
Andrulis, D., & Siddiqui, N. (2011). Health reform holds both risks and rewards for safety-net providers and racially and ethnically diverse patients. Health Affairs, 30(10), 1830-1836.
Barr, D. (2008). Health disparities in the United States. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Cutler, D. (2015). From the Affordable Care Act to Affordable Care. JAMA, 314(4), 337-338.
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Huefner, J., & Griffith, A. (2014). Psychotropic medication use with troubled children and youth. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23(4), 613-616.
Koh, H., Graham, G., & Glied, S. (2011). Reducing racial and ethnic disparities: the action plan from the department of health and human services. Health Affairs, 30(10), 1822-1829.
Woolf, S., & Braveman, P. (2011). Where health disparities begin: the role of social and economic determinants- and why current policies may make matters worse. Health Affairs, 30(10), 1852-1859.