In today’s social climate, the cost of healthcare is always on our minds. A new healthcare system has recently been put in place to ensure many people unable to afford healthcare but it is not enough. Essentially, the cost of healthcare as well as patient care is very expensive. Some people simply cannot afford the healthcare necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This problem only further damages an already deteriorating society, making people already in need of healthcare even unhealthier. Steps need to be taken to improve the healthcare system, lower costs, and educate citizens on how to improve their day-to-day health so that there is such a strain on the medical community.
Industrialized societies, such as the United States, have much to offer in the way of medical treatment that other countries do not. We can combat diseases more effectively than those living in underdeveloped countries. As a result, we do have a higher rate of people who are in good health. Diseases are diagnosed sooner, treated more quickly, and more efficiently, and though our insurance is not the greatest, it is better than what some countries offer. The United States also boasts a higher number of people who can afford healthcare and medical treatment even when it is expensive. However, there are still people who cannot afford such treatments. Usually these people live below the poverty line or within the lower middle-class (26). They contribute to early fatality rates or spend most of their life living in poor health simply because they cannot afford the medical attention they need. The United States offers assistance, but it is often not adequate. The government tends to think if insurance plans are available then all of the country’s citizens should be covered, but many times it seems that they fail to realize if a family is struggling to feed themselves, it is unlikely that they will be able to afford health insurance of any kind. To make the situation worse, a life of poverty does no only impact the individual’s wallet. Living in poverty means they will receive poor nutrition, inadequate amounts of food and liquid, and likely be uneducated about how to stay healthy (42). The healthcare system is leaving behind the people who need its help the most.
Many believe that these changes do not need to be made because people living below the poverty line brought that life on themselves. This is not always the case. It is true that there are many people who choose to leech off of the system resources, but it is not decent to punish many just to teach one. As stated by William Wilson in his book, “When Work Dries Up: The World of the New Urban Poor”, many people living below the poverty line are not there by choice, but by a matter of circumstance (10). Some are there because of previous medical bills. Insurance, as mentioned, is very expensive. Even if a patient has it, unless they have the correct plan, if something catastrophic occurs they can be left with crippling debt due to expensive hospital bills. This not only leads to poverty and poor credit scores, but it may mean that the patient loses their health insurance and is unable to obtain any from a different providers, as stated in an article called “Hospital Chain Said To Scheme To Inflate Bills” published on the New York Times website, and authored by Julie Creswell and Reed Abelson.
It is because of this that the healthcare system needs to be reformed. Obamacare was advertised as “universal healthcare” but most Americans did not seem to understand what universal healthcare is, according to Elizabeth Rosenthal, author of “As Hospital Prices Soar, A Stitch Tops $500”, published on the New York Times website. This new form of insurance is just as expensive, if not more, then the last system offered and allowing states to have authority over certain decisions was not a good idea. Take North Carolina, for example. Obamacare allowed each state to vote on whether it would expand its Medicare program to cover all impoverished citizens within the state, or decrease the funds, sending the money back to the government to help decrease the national debt. For the first three years that Obamacare was enforced, the extra money to pay for Medicare’s expansion would come from the government, not the individual state. It sounds like a decent idea that would allow poor citizens to get the healthcare they need. However, North Carolina voted “No”, and cutting Medicare funds further. State officials had a chance to improve the healthcare system, but chose not to. For this reason, it needs to be decided by the citizens. However, citizens are sometimes poorly uninformed. In fact, an article written by Eric Whitney titled “Elusive Goal: A Transparent Price List For Health Care” published on Shots website suggests that most Americans are uninformed when it comes to health care reform as well as price inflation. Educating citizens on these matters is a necessity.
Traditional healthcare may not be an option there are ways to make healthcare cheaper for those living below the poverty level, suggests Gail R. Wilensky in her article entitled “The Shortfalls of Obamacare” published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Expanding Medicare programs was one possibility but because many states declined that opportunity, other avenues must be explored. A long-term investment in free clinics and cheap healthcare would be a good idea. Initially, the operation would cost nearly $10 billion in its first year. Hearing this number sends many healthcare officials running but the idea is simple. If the money is spent as an investment in the poor and unhealthy, eventually, it will be returned. If affordable healthcare is made available to all, even impoverished citizens can begin getting healthy. Eventually this will eliminate the need for so many free healthcare services, which will begin returning money to the healthcare system. Healthier people will begin working again, also returning money to the economy. Not only will they be able to spend some of their money on doctors in the regulated healthcare system but they will not need healthcare as often because their health will have improved.
Another aspect that would help the strain on the healthcare industry would be to begin educating citizens on how to be healthy in their day-to-day lives as advised by Carmen DeNavas-Walt, author of “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States” (98). Many do not know that poverty breeds ignorance, but it does. Teaching people living below the poverty line the basics about nutrition would help them feel healthier and be healthier. Also teaching them the risks of unhealthy behavior such as smoking and drinking could make an impact. Many people living below the poverty line do not know the full impact a poor diet, smoking, and drinking can have on the body. Educating people about how beneficial exercise can be might eliminate the need for a doctor entirely, in some cases (110). A daily walk can lower a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, and insomnia. These are many things one would see a doctor for but all of them can be eliminated with simple exercise. Public meetings and social media might be useful in educating entire communities.
In summation, major changes need to be made to the healthcare system. There are people who are parasitic to systems put in place to help the poor, but there are also many who are there due to circumstance. Sometimes they are even unable to afford further healthcare because of their debt from a previous medical bill. For these reasons, healthcare needs to be more patient-oriented and cheaper. The medical community also needs to take time to educate the ignorant on how to take care of themselves, in an effort to circumvent avoidable health issues.
Creswell, Julie and Reed Abelson. "Hospital Chain Said to Scheme to Inflate Bills." 23 January 2014. New York Times. 19 February 2014.
DeNavas-Walt, Carmen. Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States. Collingdale: DIANE Publishing, 2010. Print.
Rosenthal, Elizabeth. "As Hospital Prices Soar, a Stitch Tops $500." 2 December 2013. New York Times. 19 February 2013.
Whitney, Eric. "Elusive Goal: A Transparent Price List For Health Care." 19 February 2014. Shots. 20 February 2014.
Wilensky, Gail R. "The Shortfalls of "Obamacare"." The New England Journal of Medicine (2012).
Wilson, William. When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor. New York City: Random House LLC, 2011. Print.