How is the role of government likely to change In Health Care?
The US Health Care System depends on private –public collaboration. The key players in the private sector include the American Medical Association, and the insurance Companies on one hand, and the federal and State Governments on the other. To access healthcare, individuals or families have to be insured. In recent years, health care costs have been increasing due to a number of reasons.
A large number of American citizens are without insurance. Government is directly responsible for the payment of Medicare and Medicaid –government’s health payment assistance for senior citizens over sixty five years, and vulnerable people or those beneath the poverty line respectively
Government is also responsible for payment of administrative costs incurred in health care delivery.
The role of government is likely to change, to take on board the teeming millions in society, who are still not covered by health insurance. Also to take up greater control over health care management. The ultimate purpose of government will be to bring down costs.
Will government be move or less involved in the health sector.
Government will be increasingly involved in the health sector. As it stands now, health care costs are spiraling because many of the key costs are controlled by the American Medical Association and private sector health insurance companies, which act like monopolies, driving up costs.
The increasing costs are due to expensive new drugs, medical advances for diagnosis and treatment which are very expensive. High administrative expenses all add to the increasing costs.
Government should wade in to enact policies to end or bring down such increasing costs.
Insurance companies being private profit oriented are discriminatory in insurance sales with a view to maxi missing earnings, which in the long run marginalize the poor from accessing health care. Government intervention is the only hope for such people.
What impact will increased government involvement have on health care as a business opportunity?
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Increased government involvement in the health care business would primarily involve trying to reglate the industry such that wastage would diminish so that any gains made could be channeled to take care of the teeming millions who are not covered by health insurance. Government should concentrate on extending insurance coverage, decreasing the growth of costs through improved efficiency and expanding prevention and wellness programs.
US Health Care system appears to be the only one among its peers which does not unify payment system through a central national strategy. Canada Australia, UK are examples that have centrally controlled payment system.
Per capita expenditure on health, the highest in the world is US$ 6096.20 represents 18.9% of federal and state budgets (Cutler 2006). Government involvement should be primarily to support increased technology usage such as using ICT to build national health database. This could be of benefit to all stakeholders.
Where do you see a potential for growth in the health sector?
Certain sectors in health care delivery seem to be not getting the attention they deserve. Managing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes cancer etc. gobbles government health budget.
Cutler (2006) suggests that cardio vascular diseases are most prevalent responsible for 16.8% of hospital attendance and 36.8% of deaths in 2003. Government should devote sizable budget to expand prevention and physical wellness about these diseases. Access to emergency care is an area requiring increasing attention.
Cutler (2006) suggests that emergency care is becoming constricted and staffing shortages are rife. The report further suggests that in 2006, 118,000 positions for registered nurses were vacant. This is indicative of the growing demand for this area of health delivery. Home health is becoming increasingly important and this comes with its growth in telemedicine.
Innovative companies such as Care More in California are using ICT to keep their clientele healthy and out of the hospital. Customer’s medical records are automatically transmitted to the health care unit and responses are obtained (Sachs 2011)
What opportunities would make for more investments?
The problems that currently face health care delivery in the US include lack of basic insurance for millions, lack of insurance coverage for certain illnesses and disabilities, which require long term care e.g., cancer and strokes.
Very little private insurance covers nursing homes or home health care . Medicaid pays for nursing home care. Rising costs of health care is a major concern. The private insurance regime is perceived to be inhumane, unfair and irrational.
Having one payer for health care so that government keeps down administration costs as well as charges of hospitals and doctors could be an area of government investment. This would involve huge investment in electronic database. The growing popularity of home health care is another opportunity for investment. This emerging practice which would cut down on hospital attendance requires investment in ICT.
Another opportunity for investment is in expanding prevention and wellness programs. Given the vast number of preventable diseases, such as deaths associated with smoking (465,000) per annum, hypertensions, (395,000) per annum, obesity (216,000) per annum, physical inactivity (1,011,000) per annum and other dietary risk factors. There are huge opportunities for investment for a substantial difference in health performance (Murray, 2010).
Technology as a good investment risk
Technology plays out in health care through improved drugs, modern equipment for diagnosis and treatment, Improved database administration through information and communication technology among others. The health system as is currently constituted is fragmented. Most Americans do not have a regular physician who tracks their history (Klein 2007). Development of good database on the individual as well as the national level will centralize referencing.
With the high incidence of preventable diseases such as obesity, hypertension and others development in the telemedicine filed would obviously be an advantage; with telemedicine a client at home with his / her computer connected to a physicians computer can easily have vital health parameters checked. Such as blood sugar level, blood pressure reading or weight and the results will be transmitted to the physician. A widespread development of this technology will enhance home medicine, bring down health care costs in the long run. (Sachs 2011) ICT to be employed in database administration, telemedicine, would be a technology in demand