Health care cost inflation remains a big challenge to the United States healthcare sector despite numerous efforts by the government to reduce the cost of health care. Financial experts have introduced different strategies aimed at offering solutions to the problem such as introducing new models of care delivery, cost sharing, and payment system reforms but neither has proved to slow down health care cost inflation. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the issue of health care cost inflation by focusing on the history of health care cost, factors influencing the increase in health care costs, and the role of nursing in health-care cost inflation.
Healthcare cost inflation
The issue of health care cost has been there since time immemorial. Past governments have tried different strategies to solve the issue but never succeeded. The Obamacare gave a promise to the people of U.S. that it would reduce health care costs, but since its passage in 2010 there has been no significant change. The passage of the Obamacare was as a result of rapid increase in health care spending in the U.S. Increase in health care spending led to development of new health care delivery methods that increased quality of health and wellbeing of people, but the system introduced many inefficiencies and increased costs (Chandra, Dalton and Holmes, 2013). In the last 50 years, health care price inflation has been experiencing slow growth running at an annual rate 1 percent growth since January 1962 (Executive Office of the President of the United States, November 2013). Presently, health care cost inflation is at its highest level whereby middle-class level citizens suffer the most effect. Almost every sector in the health care delivery system focuses on maximizing revenue growth leading to increased costs of health care that causes low inflation growth.
Factors influencing health care cost inflation
Numerous factors influence the health care cost inflation. One of the major factors influencing the cost of health care inflation is shifting of costs because of under-funded public programs. State and federal health programs such as Medicaid and Medicare receive inadequate funds leading to fluctuations in the cost of health care. Insurers increase the cost of benefits paid to beneficiaries due to lack of enough funds to sustain the system. According to Ewing (2013), lack of enough funds to sustain public health care programs results into deficiencies in the delivery of care that contributes to frequent health care cost inflations.
Medical malpractice liabilities is the second primary cause of increased health care cost inflation. the lack of transparency in mechanisms for public cost and quality reporting on health care spending cause an increase in the cost of health care. Nickitas (2013) argued that the federal and state governments are reluctant accessing hard and cold facts about the quality of care and related costs causing low commitment towards transparency.
The practice of nursing also plays a significant role in increasing the health care costs. Nurses take care of people admitted or seeking medical help in hospitals. Poor working conditions and ineffectiveness of nurses causes slow recovery among patients leading to increased costs of health care.
Nursing and reduces health care costs
Most causes of health care costs are accelerated by poor nursing practices. Nursing could establish various strategies to reduce the cost of health care. Firstly, retail clinics should promote the reduction of health care spending by offering low-cost access to health care and convenience health care services. According to Spetz, Parente, Town, and Bazarko (2013), the scope of practice regulation for nurse practitioners (NPs) operating retail clinics should limit NPs scope by ensuring they offer service at low costs. Additionally, the scope-of-practice regulation body should ensure all retail clinics enroll with present Medicaid and Medicare services to allow customers spend less on treatments. Secondly, nursing should embrace primary care medical homes as the way of reducing the cost of health care. Encouraging patients to take up health care plans such as Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) gives people a strategic opportunity to access health care services at lower costs. Additionally, implementations of health plans can easily transform the U.S. health care system on a long-term basis (Collins, Piper, and Owens, 2013).
The problem of health care cost inflation will continue affecting Americans unless an immediate action is taken. The federal and state government in partnership with health care officials has the responsibility of ensuring such issues are not experienced in the future. The paper gives recommendations for reducing the cost of health care that are long-term and easy to implement.
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