The Government and your Health
The Government and your Health
Health policies adversely affect a country and its people. Governments determine how the country handles health issues by creating the policies that govern them. How a government places its priorities and its parameters for action in their countries within their health systems can greatly affect a country's population. This is especially the case in developing countries. This is because the disease burden is often very high.
The government pretty much runs the show-because you put it in power. (Which is not wrong and someone needs to run the system-otherwise it would be anarchy. But I digress.) Governments determine whether health care policies will favor its population and this is important because it determines whether the people in the country will have cheap and good health care. Other than making policies and laws that affect health care institutions and financing, they also affect health care practitioners. These are the qualifications that the practitioners must have such as particular degrees in order to operate legally as health care workers.
Public Health-The Bigger Picture
Health professionals (doctors, medical practitioners, organizations and what not) focus health care issues and not social policies. Reforming health care would control costs and help improve access to health care. It would also improve the quality of health care. However, the health status of citizens is not a stand-alone factor.
Health is a broad issue and even though health care affects it greatly, multiple external issues affect diseases. These are behavioral matters such as obesity, smoking and environmental exposure. In a recession, socioeconomic pressures affect health adversely. These pressures may make healthcare unaffordable and other daily issues such as food and shelter interfere with the need for good health. The need to remain healthy also affects lifestyles where for example an individual spends the time that they would normally use to work out in getting a second job.
The amount that each person will spend on healthcare alone by 2017, according to Analysts.
Social Issues Impacting Healthcare Reforms
Many social issues have a direct impact on the health situation of a country. Don’t believe it? Let’s take stress for example. It is a condition that comes with its own ripple effects. For one, it could lead to unhealthy feeding, such as fast foods as opposed to health vegetable and fruit options. Stress could also lead to alcohol consumption, smoking, and drug use, which is also unhealthy. Man has an inherent need for survival. Suicide and homicide would consequently result from desperation and a need to steal in order for people to meet their own basic needs.
As you can see, socioeconomic factors have effects that reach far and wide. Senior citizens could for example also endure cold temperatures to lower their electricity, heating bills, students could leave college to defray tuition and generally, health, and good lifestyles would become a very low priority during times of economic crises.
There is an increase in the number of uninsured Americans in the country. This number increases at an annual rate of 6.7%. This annual increase has a great social impact on the people and has increasing public concern. The United States spends more on health care than any other nation. Analysts expect that by 2017, each person will spend $13,000 dollars on health care alone. Currently over 60% of thecitizens are not covered by employers' insurance policies. The percentage of GDP spent on health increased to 16.3% in 2007 from 16.0% in 2006. Analysts expect that through 2017, the growth in the amount spend on health will outpace the growth of the GDP by 1.9%. The rapid increase of health care has economic implications on the country.
How Health Reforms Affect the Economy
Health reforms are a very important initiative when considering its economic consequences. Currently aid programs and tight budgets in health care have a great economic impact on the country. Aid will mobilize revenue, spur technological innovation, increase consumer spending, counteract recessionary forces, and help workers compete against overseas economies.
Health reforms have both economic advantages to health commands and intrinsic value to the society. It therefore should be high on the list of policy priorities. If the socioeconomic distress continues, it will affect public health, this could affect demands for health care, workforce productivity, increase disease burden, and this would put a great economic burden on the government and employers.
Factors Impacting the Nation's Health
Did you know that impact of social conditions on health can be measured? Let’s take health for instance. Education is a major social issue and it has a direct impact on the health of the people. In 2005, out of 100,000 adults aged between 25 and 64 years with higher education, their mortality was 206.3. It was however twice as high for individuals who did not go beyond high school. This is 477.6 for every 100,000 such adults. It was three times as high for individuals with less than high school education, that is, 650.4 for every 100,000 such adults. The death rates differ for individuals with different levels of education.
Since education is a social issue, it directly influences health of different individuals who have different levels of it. Those with a higher level of education, have lower death rates.
Health issues due to their status also adversely affect minority and poor populations. Hispanics and black individuals have higher death rates than other affluent and non-Hispanic whites do. This is because more than 30% of them are living in poverty. Their death rates are about 5 times as great as the death rate reported for the highest-income quintile. Black infants also have a high infant mortality rates than white infants. Income as a social condition, affects the health status of individuals in a community because of the priorities that make health a less important factor in their lives. Other than social issues, the past also affects health.
Have Your Say
Do you think the government is doing enough to ensure that you have access to appropriate health services?
Historical Issues That Affect Health
In 2009, analysts reported that 59% of US citizens believed that the government needed to do something to control health care costs. They believe that the government should make health care costspriority. A health care reform would mean to help reduce and control the health care costs but not change the control structure with which it operates. It would also mean expanding the eligibility of the people under the current health care plans. This would require starting them again from the beginning. The final and most radical plan would be a national health insurance plan. Currently, most Americans with employers have an employer-sponsored plan, However, the federal government provides Medicaid to the poor and Medicare to the elderly, veterans, congressional representatives, and federal employees.
Health Care Reforms-the Debate that is
It is difficult for the public to reach a consensus on health care reforms. In 2007, the health care spending for the US government was $2.4 trillion. This was 17% of the GDP. In 2008, it had increased by 6.9%, which was remarkably twice the rate of inflation.
Let’s face it-health care is also about making money. Since healthcare is a business, the trend in the increase of health care prices continues. Policy makers have different approaches to controlling the health care costs. Some of them want to control the health care prices while others want to control the competition because they believe that it will solve all the problems. The negative effect, however, of controlling the cost is controlling the demand for health care in the country. If Americans adapted a healthier lifestyle, then health care costs would drop, however, the government cannot handle this legislatively.
Medicare is one of the current health care plans for the elderly, veterans, andcongressional representatives. In 1965, President Johnson established it as one of his social service programs. It is a federal program. It was established specifically for Americans who are over 65 years and some individuals who are under 65 but have disabilities. It has two parts: Part A, which is hospital insurance and Part B, which is coverage for outpatient hospital care, doctor services and a few other medical services that Part A does not cover. In 2003, policy makers added costly and controversial prescription drug coverage, Improvement, Medical Prescription and Modernization Act, and HR 1. These took effect in 2006 .It is a popular health care plan for the public.
What is the Government is doing for my Health?
No doubt you've asked yourself that a couple of times.
The current government has a health care plan that strengthens employer coverage, ensures that the patients have a choice on who they would want as their doctor and what kind of care they would like to receive without government interference.It also makes insurance companies accountable. With this plan, it is possible that health insurance costs would go down as fast as $2,500 in a year. Citizens without any health insurance plans will have a choice to have their health insurance plans managed by a National Health Insurance Exchange. It would provide a new public plan whose benefits are similar to those available to the members of the congress and a range of private insurance options for those that would prefer it. This plan would help reduce the health care costs in the country that have increased at an alarming rate over the past years.
Medicaid is another health care program whose focus is the needy in the society and people who earn a very low income. It covers the aged, children, the blind, and other disabled persons. It applies to disabled persons who have are eligible to receive income maintenance payments from the federal government. The federal and state governments jointly fund this health insurance policy. Most discussions surrounding health care revolve around health insurance and healthcare costs. However, one other major health care issue is emergency contraception. Women find it difficult to acquire emergency contraception. Though the FDA has approved over-the-counter purchase of emergency contraception without a prescription for women above 18 years, most policy makers still consider it a contentious issue in most political debates.
The Affordable Care Act
This is a health reform that the government has come up with to manage the health care issues that have arisen over time. The Society of Actuaries predicts that there will be an average increase of 31.5% on the health insurances rates. This expected rate does not include the expected increase in the rates for young people. In the new law, older people will pay less than 3 times as much as young people will. This will double the insurance costs for young people aged between 20 and 30 and decrease the rates for people between 50 and 60 years old. The Act creates these age bands.
In November 2009, the CBO reported that there would be an estimated increase of about 10 to 13% of the health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. They estimate the increase in health insurance premiums for individuals under 50-year employee market would be 1% and a probable decrease of about 2% only. Policy makers, however, still support the act and they claim that those receiving premium subsidies, which they estimate to be about 60% of all the consumers, would only feel the increase in insurance premiums. The Affordable Care act therefore has a lot of support from the political front.
The biggest cost in the Affordable Care Act will be the cost of the health insurance subsidies. The Medicaid expansion will also have a great cost. The federal government will pay the excess premiums for all the individuals getting subsidies. It will therefore feel the greatest impact of the rate increases. About 40% of the consumers will not be eligible for the subsidies and will therefore feel the impact of the very high prices. These are some of the existing small group customers and individuals. The Affordable Care Act allows insurance companies to increase smokers' premiums by 50%.
Health-the Factor that affects them all
Since health is a very important issue in the community, it has policies, both social and political that influence it. The government plays a huge role in making policies that determine how the country deals with issues surrounding health. It also makes laws that indirectly influence the health issues in the country. In some cases, the impact is negative and this may increase the costs of health care and reduce its quality.
Social issues that influence health policies include lifestyles and stereotypes. An unhealthy lifestyle affects the health status on the country and increases medical cases and health care costs. Socio-economic issues also affect the health policies and behaviors amongst people in the country. Sometimes it lowers health as a priority amongst people. This increases healthcare issues such as the number of medical cases and mortality rates.
Where the buck stops...
The government creates reforms to try to keep the health status of the country in check. They make them based on public opinion and social behaviors. Historical matters such as former health policies and reforms also affect them.Laws such as the Affordable Care Act manage and control existing health care programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. They directly affect costs of healthcare and the cost directly affects the health of the individuals in the country.
But remember-you healthcare starts with you-watch what you do, what you eat and how you live. Most conditions could be avoided if people took a little more care of themselves.