The healthcare system of the U.S. represents a public-private mechanism in which the country’s vast economic resources are concentrated. However, there is no consensus among scholars on the efficiency of the system. Thus, Barr (2016) shares the way he starts his university lectures with two slides. One slide says that the American health system is the best worldwide, and the other states that nowhere else is it worse. This paper is aimed to investigate this paradox and examine both the strengths and the weaknesses of the U.S. health policy.
The main undisputed advantage of American healthcare is the high quality of research in this area. Nowadays, medical scientists in the United States have received the largest number of Nobel Prizes among representatives of other countries – 18 of the last 25 laureates were American citizens or visiting scientists. Moreover, over the past 20 years, Americans created the largest number of medicines. In terms of their income, American doctors are also far superior to their counterparts from other countries (Coles, 2018). Therefore, health care in the United States is rightfully considered one of the most advanced and innovative in the world.
Furthermore, or those with health insurance, medical services are distinguished by high-quality, patient-centric treatment. With the emergence of the Internet, the convenience of the health system increased significantly. Thus, Americans are considerably more prone to use online medical services than citizens of other developed countries (Rice et al., 2020). Besides, the United States has a well-developed legislative framework regulating medical services and interaction between patients and specialists. In case of medical errors, the patient is provided with specialized lawyers who will help achieve material compensation (Coles, 2018). Thereby, health insurance allows American citizens to enjoy high-quality and customer-oriented medicine and the opportunity to protect their rights in this area.
However, despite significant investments in healthcare, the United States is the only high-income nation that does not guarantee its citizens a universal and inclusive health insurance system. Thus, at least at some point in the year 2017, about 28.5% of U.S. citizens were not covered by health insurance (Buehler et al., 2018). The bulk of the uninsured population is constituted by socially vulnerable or low-income groups of people. It is important to note that the lack of insurance prevents access for millions of Americans to preventive screening and treatment for such dangerous diseases as cancer, dooming sick people to death (Rice et al., 2020). Thus, the problem of the uninsured population is especially acute in American society.
A recent pandemic tough test has also revealed significant deficiencies in the U.S. health care system. First, the speed of reaction and decision-making was insufficient to prevent or slow down the rapid spread of the disease. This may indicate a complex bureaucratic system that makes it challenging to make timely decisions in crises (Alsan et al., 2021). Secondly, the lack of insurance coverage has become a severe obstacle to the rapid prevention of the virus, leading to more than 15 million COVID-19 cases by the end of 2020 (Alsan et al., 2021). Finally, compared to other developed countries, the U.S. demonstrated one of the worse effectiveness rates in addressing the pandemic. Therefore, the current situation with the virus proved the need to enhance the medical system in the United States.
With vast investments in the medical field and a considerable number of scientific advances, the system seems to be not compelling enough. The pandemic has also exposed some weaknesses in this field. To improve the situation, policymakers should expand the availability and accessibility of health services by increasing insurance coverage.
Alsan, M., Chandra, A., & Simon, K. (2021). The Great Unequalizer: Initial Health Effects of COVID-19 in the United States. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 35(3), 25-46. Web.
Barr, D. A. (2016). Introduction to U.S. health policy: The organization, financing, and delivery of health care in America. Johns Hopkins University Press.
Buehler, J., Snyder, R., Freeman, S., Carson, S., & Ortega, A. (2018). It’s Not Just Insurance: The Affordable Care Act and Population Health. Public Health Reports, 133(1), 34-38. Web.
Coles, E. (2018). Health Reform in the U.S.: Same evidence, different frames. Harvard Public Health Review, 14, 1-4. Web.
Rice T., Rosenau P., Unruh L.Y., Barnes A.J., (2020) United States: Health system review. Health Systems in Transition 22(4), 1-441.