IMPACT OF HEALTHCARE REFORM
Name: Patrick K. Kimuyu
Healthcare reform debate in the United States of America appears to have born appreciable returns after the unanimous approval by the House of Representatives on March 21, 2010. The healthcare reform was regarded to as the biggest in the history of the United States for over 40 years, and it ushered in a new phase of the U.S healthcare system.
In a nutshell, the recent healthcare reforms aim at enhancing access to healthcare services by all U.S citizens by embarking on fundamental healthcare policy approaches that creates universal healthcare. They are also intended to reduce the cost of healthcare across the country.
It is believed that the quest for the introduction of the healthcare reform was occasioned by the inefficiency of the old healthcare system in which access to healthcare services by the U.S citizens was somehow difficult. In the old healthcare system, only some few selected groups were able to access healthcare services under Government-funded healthcare programmes. Healthcare coverage involved the Medicare and the Medicaid, Government-funded healthcare programmes through which the aged and the low-income populations could access medical services in public healthcare institutions. Government-run schemes enabled military veterans to access medical services; whereas the State Children’s Health Insurance Programmes catered for the children of the uninsured parents (Goldsteen & Jonas, 2012). In addition, the National Health Insurance Fund, which is an employer-funded health insurance, offered access to healthcare for the employed population on the basis of salary deductions from their monthly income.
The Federally-funded healthcare programmes required individuals to pay the so-called ‘deductibles’ to supplement their total contributions paid through regular premiums. In contrast, the recent healthcare reforms have created a universal healthcare coverage to all individuals. Therefore, it has enhanced access to the healthcare services, although it appears to a cost burden to the current limited healthcare facilities across the country.
Impact of Recent Healthcare Reforms
In general, the recent healthcare measures have expanded access to healthcare through a number of meaningful ways. For instance, the Affordable Care Act enables young Americans in the U.S workforce to access healthcare under their parents’ healthcare plans. In addition, the recent reforms require insurers to offer medical cover to children with existing medical conditions; contrary to the case before in the old healthcare plans in which such individuals were not entitled to medical cover. Moreover, under the recent healthcare reforms, insurance providers will no longer perpetuate gender bias in offering medical cover to different groups such as women. In the past, insurance companies could cancel medical coverage or arbitrarily impose charges over women. The recent healthcare reforms have also enabled private insurance to access preventive healthcare services such as disease screening and FDA-approved contraception; unlike in the old healthcare plans in which patients paid for these services from their pockets.
It is also worth noting that the recent healthcare reforms grant low-income individuals financial subsidies to cater for their insurance (Arvantes, 2012). This has been put in place because healthcare insurance is seemingly mandatory for all individuals to enhance access to universal healthcare. It is expected that the recent healthcare reform will enable over 32 million more people who currently lack healthcare insurance to acquire medical cover through healthcare program expansions and insurance reforms (Jacobs & Skocpol, 2012).
However, the recent healthcare reforms seem to have increased pressure on the U.S healthcare system, especially with regard to primary care practices. Currently, the U.S public healthcare facilities are faced with unprecedented inadequacy due to the ever increasing healthcare demands by the U.S population. Healthcare resources are relatively limited; thus, access to medical services is somehow impaired. Therefore, creating universal access to healthcare from public healthcare facilities might be accompanied by substandard service provision; although the recent reforms incorporate private healthcare providers in facilitating universal access to healthcare.
Impact of Healthcare Changes to Utilization
On the other hand, change to access of healthcare services may influence utilization in different ways. For instance, improved access to healthcare may restore patient satisfaction with public healthcare institutions; since there will be unlimited access to medical services. In the past, most individuals had turned to private healthcare providers, since they were believed to offer high-quality services to their clients despite the high costs of treatment. It was observed that most individuals were attracted to private healthcare providers by the reliability and appreciable customer treatment by private healthcare providers. For instance, most private healthcare providers seem to have adopted modern technologies in providing healthcare services to their clients. In contrast, public healthcare providers are reluctant to adopt modern technological approaches which guarantee efficiency and customer satisfaction because some of them are costly.
In retrospect, changes to healthcare access may influence utilization of healthcare facilities in a negative way, especially the public healthcare institutions. It is believed that universal access to healthcare will create the need for high quality services in the public healthcare facilities. As a result, there will be increased competition for the services by all individuals seeking medical services, and this situation may cause pressure on the healthcare professionals. The ultimate result for this may be patients’ dissatisfaction with public healthcare providers, leading to low turnout of medical service seekers within public healthcare facilities.