By Nupur Kudapkar
Is the US healthcare system expensive, complicated, dysfunctional, or broken? The simple answer is yes.
The United States lacks a consistent healthcare system and does not provide universal coverage. Inequalities in health services are the United States’ disadvantage compared to other high-income countries. Although the United States is known for its leadership in biomedical research and cutting-edge medical technology, its medical system has severe flaws, including preventable medical mistakes, low treatable mortality rates, and a lack of treatment openness. Another issue that Americans face is the difficulty in locating a qualified physician. High healthcare expenditures and a lack of insurance coverage for low- and middle-income households have resulted in social and economic discrimination in healthcare. Americans are unable to receive the maximum level of medical treatment they require due to a scarcity of nurses, physicians, and specialists in hospitals and health centers, among other mounting issues in public health care. Fifty million Americans, or 16% of the population, are without health insurance. Medical costs, such as drugs and medical supplies, have become more out of reach for low-income people. As a result, paying medical bills and other medical expenses has become a significant out-of-pocket cost. Deprived communities continue to lack access to basic healthcare, relying on emergency rooms to treat chronic diseases and provide preventative treatment.
The price is high, but the quality is really not. Despite spending significantly more on healthcare than other high-income countries, the United States ranks low on a number of key health indicators, including life expectancy, avoidable hospital admissions, suicide, and maternal mortality. Despite the high cost, satisfaction with the existing healthcare system in the United States is poor. Due to the exorbitant prices and the large number of individuals who are underinsured or uninsured, many people are in danger of becoming bankrupt if they get sick. Prices vary greatly, making it difficult to evaluate the quality or cost of your healthcare alternatives — or even to estimate how much you’ll be charged. Even if you ask a lot of questions ahead of time and stick with doctors in your health insurance network who are recommended to you, you may still get a surprise fee.
Health insurance is dependent on employment; if you do not have a job, you will be unable to obtain coverage, and even if you do, the insurance alternatives available to you after you are hired may be inadequate. From insurances that hardly cover anything to insurances that are prohibitively expensive. The existing healthcare system in the United States has a harsh propensity to postpone or deny high-quality care to people who are most in need but cannot pay for it. This adds to unnecessary inequities in healthcare for persons of color and other marginalized groups. To keep expenses low, health insurance may discourage care. Many health insurance companies limit access to pricey drugs, tests, and other treatments by refusing to fund them until documents are completed to explain the service to the insurance company. For example, all people who have type 1 diabetes and some people who have type 2 diabetes need to take insulin to help control their blood sugar levels. The goal of taking insulin is to keep your blood sugar level in a normal range as much as possible, and a bottle of insulin can be up to $450 per month. There isn’t a straightforward way to remedy this. Even insured Americans pay more for healthcare out of pocket than citizens in most other rich countries. Some people buy drugs from other nations because they are cheaper. The status quo may be acceptable to health insurers, pharmaceutical firms, and certain well-paid healthcare practitioners. But our existing healthcare system is unsustainable. Other nations have taken a different approach to healthcare, with single-payer, government-run systems or a combination of private and public choices. Some of the most successful may be able to serve as an example for us. But, with so much at stake and conflicting interests’ well-funded lobbying groups ready to go to war, it’s far from sure that our healthcare system will be reformed anytime soon (Harvard Health Publishing) (Managed Healthcare Executive).