Public health reform
The public health reform programs are aimed at making positive reforms in both the public and the private health sector. The United States has not effectively been able to provide healthcare coverage or affordable health insurance plans to all its residents, and the crisis is even becoming worse with the economic slowdowns. There are some bodies like the American Public Health Association (APHA) with the support of the national leaders who have tried to come up with healthcare reform strategies (In Abernathy, 2014). The efforts have been triggered by the fact that approximately 45-47 million Americans lack health coverage and therefore struggling to meet their medical bills. This has led to straining the national health budget since health is a basic need and the government has to strive to satisfy the need for its citizens (In Abernathy, 2014). The economic advancements and the improved technology have made the healthcare services processes become sophisticated and therefore increasing the healthcare cost at a faster rate. In the year 2015, the health care cost rose by 5.8% to stand at 17.8% of the total gross domestic product as compared to the year 2014 where the increase was 5.4 showing that the health care cost is increasing at an increasing rate (Healthcare Cost Containment, 2015).
The level of Public health in the United States is not as appealing as it should be considering the economic development in the nation and also in comparison with other states all over the world. A healthy nation is a productive nation and therefore maintaining public health in checks would reciprocate in the national productivity. The public health is faced with disparities, discrimination and the most affected people are the minority groups as they lack proper representation and consideration when reviewing health care issues (Schneider, 2014). The economic and social marginalization has led to price discrimination or varying healthcare costs in different healthcare facilities for the same treatment procedures and therefore reducing the patient’s trust with the system regarding healthcare dissemination procedures and protocol. The government has come up with healthcare reform strategies, and Affordable care act is one of the reforms that have aimed at revolutionizing the healthcare systems in the United States and hence promoting the public health status.
Affordable Care Act
Affordable Care Act was aimed at putting a health care insurance coverage policy in place. Affordable Health Care was to achieve this aim through expanding the health care coverage, lowering health care costs, providing and guaranteeing more health care policy choices, holding the insurance companies accountable as well as enhancing the healthcare equality for all the Americans (In Abernathy, 2014). Its implementation led to an expansion of Medicaid coverage especially to millions of the low-income earners in the nation and also made improvements to the Children Healthcare Insurance Program (In Nicholson, 2015). Through Affordable Care Act CMS in collaboration with states, partners have prioritized on the changes and provided guidance in the Medicaid and CHIP programs.
Strengths of Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act has been associated with various benefits as it streamlines and reforms the health care systems in the United States. According to Thompson and Thomson Gale (2015) some of the strengths of the act are;
Ambulatory patient services: This is normally called Outpatient care where the patients walk in a healthcare facility, get treated and walk out. Although most of the healthcare insurance policies provide for the same, the details and the plan access may vary as the Act has stated that the network size must be sufficient for all its members.
Prescription drugs: Most of the healthcare insurance policies offer drugs coverage as an option and at an extra cost. The law has paved the way for the low-income earners as it states that the plan covers at least one drug in every category.
Emergency care: Affordable Care Act also don’t charge extra for patients who visit the emergency rooms with serious conditions like the heart attack or stroke or charge extra for an out of network visit.
Hospitalization: The law also pushes the insurer to cover patient’s hospitalization although a patient may be required by the law to cater for 20% of the medical bill especially if they have not reached theirs out of pocket limit.
Maternity and Newborn Care: Parental care under the Affordable Care Act is classified as preventive service and must be provided at no extra cost. The law has therefore pushed to ensure that the insurer covers children and the new born infants. The maternity benefits provided for by the law have been welcomed especially by the young people as most of the traditional healthcare insurance policies did not provide for the service.
Weaknesses of Affordable Care Act
Though Affordable care has been one of the reforms that have led to a positive change in the healthcare sector, there are still some weaknesses that are associated with its implementation, and they include;
Loss of company sponsored health care plan: Approximately 3-5 million people were at the receiving end as many insurance bodies found it economical to cater for the penalty and have their staff seek insurance cover on exchanges (In Abernathy, 2014).
Cancellation of insurance plans from the private health insurance: Most people lacked company plans, and after its effectiveness, they were canceled as they did not meet the essential benefits as per the Affordable Care Act. The loss was greatly felt like the cost of replacing the plans were high as the Affordable Care Act requires or considers services that many people don’t need the maternity care.
High premium costs: High premium cost could be due to an addition of 20 million people in the health care coverage. This is because those paying the premium must cater for the sick persons incorporated in the plan and therefore push for a stretch or rather an increase in the premium. The prevention services also included in the act have also called for an increase in the premium to cover it as per the requirement of the Affordable Care Act.
Suggestions Affordable Care act plan improvement
The advantages of ACA outdo the disadvantages and therefore streamlining some issues could go a long way in promoting the status of the United States public health. Some changes that would go a long way in ensuring that the Affordable Healthcare Act reform remains strong and meets the purpose of its establishment are;
The exchanges: Most of the people opt to pay the penalty and opt out of the insurance policy. This has constrained the insurers as they later join the program if they predict a sickness risk and therefore leading to increased long run health care cost for the insurer (In Abernathy, 2014).
Medicaid expansion: Expanding and including more health care conditions in the insurance policies would lower the burden caused by the Affordable Care Act to the insurance companies and therefore reduce the overall cost as expanding the Medicaid program would cover more than 3 million people to the already existing health insurance plans (In Abernathy, 2014).
Healthcare Cost Containment. (2015). Healthcare Financial Management Assn.
In Abernathy, S. R. (2014). The affordable care act: Developments and considerations.
In Nicholson, M. H. (2015). Children’s health insurance: Comparisons of CHIP coverage.
Schneider, & M.-J. (2014). Introduction to public health.
Thompson, T., & Thomson Gale (Firm). (2015). The Affordable Care Act. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press.