Many people believe the monopolization of healthcare services and medicines is an overriding reason for the high cost of quality care. Some also perceive that only well-known private hospitals can provide quality patient care. A study highlighted that the US government spent an average of $11,110 on each Americans’ healthcare needs compared to $5,500 per individual in other developed countries. Good health is a fundamental human right, and no one should have to be deprived of quality medical assistance on time. However, owing to socioeconomic differences, underprivileged and marginalized groups tend to suffer. Needless to say, there are several ways through which healthcare services can be made more accessible and affordable for a given population. These include:
Inducting more public health experts
Public health experts not only know about prevalent diseases but also have a firm grip on healthcare-related policies. Public health programs teach people how to translate their knowledge and skills into positive health outcomes. They can help the policymakers as well as clinical staff in revamping the overall healthcare system. Therefore, more people should be encouraged to enroll in alternative healthcare education programs to fill in gaps and make healthcare services accessible to a larger number of patients. Flexible learning options such as MPH online programs not only help aspiring healthcare professionals save their time and money, but they also help individuals with a non-clinical background skill up and take up healthcare-related jobs. Therefore, policymakers should make more efforts to facilitate individuals wanting to take up such educational endeavors for the collective well-being of society and induct more public health professionals into our healthcare system. It will, in turn, help to spread more awareness about human health and disease.
Reducing administrative costs on healthcare services
Administrative costs billed by the management are considered the prime contributors to excessive healthcare expenditures. United States healthcare infrastructure has many procedures and systems that are indispensable and lay a heavy load on the national exchequer. In 2019, it spent $1.1 trillion on healthcare administrative expenditure. Unless individuals do not have insurance, this cost can become very high for them to manage independently, thus depriving them of quality services at the right time. However, this cost can be truncated and allocated to other healthcare aspects like medicines and after-care services, making getting timely help more affordable.
Promoting telehealth and distance monitoring
Technology and digitalization are reshaping every aspect of our lives, so why not let it spill over healthcare? Considering the constraint distance and time can impose on the accessibility of care, virtual healthcare is a viable solution. Clinical staff can take advantage of modern technologies and adapt themselves to the new ways of treatment. Telehealth is an essential, efficient, and cheaper way of expanding healthcare services to remote areas. Video conferencing tools and EHRs can help patients share information with medical professionals and get the help they need without waiting weeks or months to see a doctor.
Deploying mobile clinics
A study related to a mobile clinic named “Family Van” suggested mobility as a cost-effective and time-saving method to delivering healthcare services. A mobile clinic can be set up in a van, bus, or truck, having all the essential equipment to provide primary care, preventive care, and dental care services. This model is outrightly suitable for underdeveloped areas. According to Mobile Health Map, currently, around 2000 mobile clinics are located all over the country.
Eradicating unnecessary laboratory testing
Lab tests are expensive and can quickly increase an individual’s or family’s health budget. It is the main reason behind patients’ high medical bills. Patients have to go through multiple laboratory tests at the time of admission or initial checkups. The Los Angeles Times has estimated that Americans waste approximately $200 billion on unnecessary lab tests yearly. The way forward is for doctors not to force their patients to have inessential tests and prescribe only necessary tests. Doing so will drastically cut down on the cost of treatment.
Controlling drug prices
Presently, soaring drug prices is the foremost challenge that the American healthcare system faces. This jacks up the cost of treatment, especially for those suffering chronic medical conditions, those who are dependent on expensive life-saving medication. An increase of 2.9% in medical drug prices has been witnessed every year since 2006. In the US, the burden of this hike falls almost entirely on the patients who buy them. However, in Europe, the government takes measures to control drug prices by providing cheap medicine. Therefore, healthcare policymakers should intervene and regulate drug prices so that patients do not have to pay exorbitantly high amounts. Proper medication is essential for the healing process, and unaffordable drugs are nothing but inaccessible.
Making healthcare insurance more viable
Healthcare institutions should allow patients to buy healthcare insurance from any company they want. It will create a healthy completion among different insurance companies. Consequently, the price for insurance premiums will witness a downturn, and insurers will offer more incentives to people. This way, more patients can get relief in their healthcare expenditures.
Encouraging people to focus on care rather than cure
To reduce the country’s rising healthcare spending, people must focus on care rather than cure. It is a socially responsible way to prevent themselves from hefty medical bills and build a thriving community by spreading awareness. Allied healthcare professionals such as social workers should encourage people to eat a balanced diet, quit unhealthy activities, and go for medical checkups regularly. This way, the community may witness a decrease in preventable diseases such as heart attacks, diabetes, hypertension, and lung cancer.
Working on enhancing the efficiencyof the healthcare system
A study conducted by UCLA ranked the US healthcare system 24th among the 27 topmost developed countries. The inefficiency became even more evident when the Covid-19 hit the country. Inefficiency leads to high healthcare costs and poor delivery of quality services to patients. Therefore, healthcare administrators and leaders should design improved methods for delivering care and improving patient outcomes. This can be achieved by deploying newer methods and encouraging professionals to enhance their skill sets.
Currently, Americans face acute distress in accessing and affording quality healthcare services. Though the US healthcare budget is one of the highest among the developed nations, its citizens have to pay high medical bills. Studies suggest that the problem lies in the regulation, administration, and management of hospitals and clinics. Policymakers and healthcare leaders should encourage people to join the clinical workforce and promote virtual healthcare and mobile clinics. Also, professionals must increase the system’s efficiency, regulate drug prices, and eliminate unnecessary lab tests. By considering these ways, healthcare can be made accessible and affordable to a larger number of people.
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