The quality of health care in the United States is one of the most significant problem areas. According to the official statistics, the country’s health outcomes are significantly worse than in other first-world countries. For instance, recent data show that the U.S. ranks last among similarly wealthy countries in amenable mortality, which directly reflects the effectiveness of health care (Kurani et al., 2020). The paper aims to discuss several major reasons for the situation and recommend public policies that could improve healthcare quality.
Reasons for the Low-Level Health Outcomes in the United States
The first reason is access to care, which is considered one of the main factors influencing health care quality. It is “a significant benchmark in assessing the effectiveness of the medical care delivery system” (Shi & Singh, 2019, p. 509). However, access to care is closely connected to a lack of universal coverage in the United States that directly affects patients’ health status and health outcomes.
While the issue mentioned above is widely discussed and debated, making it one of the most topical problems in U.S. politics, it is also important to single out another possible reason: low health literacy. Researchers note that “even after insurance status is controlled, individuals with low health literacy report more difficulty finding providers who will see them” (Levy & Janke, 2016, p. 47). This factor might be even more complicated when a lack of knowledge about access to the health care system is accompanied by the individual’s ignorance of their health status.
Finally, poor health quality outcomes in the United States could be explained by a range of other reasons. Experts point out such factors as administrative inefficiency, unprecedented chronic disease burden, obesity rates, and a low supply of physicians (Tikkanen & Abrams, 2020). All these aspects result in the unsatisfactory level of health care in the country and need to be addressed through policies and other initiatives, some of which will be discussed further.
Policies Aimed at Improving the Situation
The outlined problems should be solved with attention to the existing conditions that the U.S. health care system is formed by. Compared to other countries, it is essential to consider the different funding strategies and methods of guaranteed insurance that have been developed over the years. Therefore, it is evident that the United States would not provide government-subsidized healthcare as in Sweden or low-price basic insurance plans as in the Netherlands.
However, it might be useful to transform existing health care policies. For instance, solving the Affordable Care Act issue and allowing it to cover pre-existing health conditions could make health care more accessible and reduce amenable mortality caused by them. Moreover, it is necessary to develop and offer special community programs to increase health literacy, especially among risk groups of the low-income population.
Another suggestion concerns the country’s current spending on medicine. Nowadays, the United States spends almost 18% of the gross domestic product on health care, which is the world’s highest percentage (Shrank et al., 2019). However, the efficiency of this spending is perceived as relatively low. The researchers estimate that approximately 25% of total health care spending can be considered waste (Shrank et al., 2019). This situation’s root is insufficient cooperation of the health system and payers, lack of care coordination, and overtreatment of low-value care categories. Therefore, it seems reasonable to propose policy interventions that would address the issues mentioned above and would allow allocating of the saved money to other pressing matters, including access to care and establishing effective health literacy education.
The reasons for unsatisfactory health outcomes in the United States are multiple, among which are low access to care and low-level health literacy. The proposed measures might not be sufficient to solve the overarching problem, but they would address the outlined issues. Moreover, they might be useful as a part of the universal and consolidated effort that will aim at addressing various factors that have led to the present situation.
Levy, H., & Janke, A. (2016). Health literacy and access to care. Journal of Health Communication, 21(1), 43-50. Web.
Kurani, N., McDermott, D., & Shanosky, N. (2020). How does the quality of the U.S. healthcare system compare to other countries? Health System Tracker. Web.
Shi, L., & Singh, D. A. (2019). Delivering health care in America: A systems approach (7th ed.). Jones & Barlett Learning.
Shrank, W. H., Rogstad, T. L., & Parekh, N. (2019). Waste in the US health care system: Estimated costs and potential for savings. Journal of American Medical Association, 322(15), 1501-1509. Web.
Tikkanen, R., & Abrams, M. K. (2020). U.S. health care from a global perspective, 2019: Higher spending, worse outcomes? The Commonwealth Fund. Web.