The cost of health care in the United States has been increasing for decades. This has caused many insurance companies to raise insurance premiums. High premiums have in turn forced many people to prefer out-of-pocket payments.
Also, insurance companies have in the past turned away some people with chronic illnesses. In an attempt to solve this problem, the government came up with reforms aimed at increasing health coverage in the United States. These reforms have increased the cost of health care in the United States.
In the short term, the reforms have increased government expenditure on health care. The government provides subsidies to citizens who cannot afford to purchase health insurance premiums. The increased cost is then passed to pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment manufacturers, and tax payers. Higher income earners are expected to pay health care taxes (Medicaid tax).
Pharmaceutical companies have had to review prices of their productsthe upwards. The cost of health care in the United States is among the highest in the world. However, this has not translated to high quality of health care. In spite of the high costs, the health care system of the United States is still ranked lower than those of other developed countries. Increased government expenditure may increase out-of-pocket payments.
Increased health care coverage may have a positive effect on the heath care system in the long run. For instance, health insurance premiums may come down or remain fairly constant in the near future. Government subsidies may also increase the uptake of insurance by low income earners. This will translate to increased profits for the insurance companies.
This may eventually encourage the insurance companies to lower premiums resulting in greater health coverage. Increased coverage ensures that citizens do not spend much of their income on health. Citizens can then spend the surplus amount on other commodities. This may spur economic growth. Another long term benefit is saved-sick-days. A healthy population is more productive. Expenditure on curable services may also reduce.
Increased coverage has a profound effect on health services. It enables many people to access affordable health care services. Much of the population that was previously not covered is now covered. This is a step towards universal coverage. The structure of health care delivery may also change over time.
At the moment, the health care system is health care provider and insurer oriented. This has limited patient choices. Patients may be able to decide who and where to receive treatment. Patients will also have the ability to compare prices offered by different health care providers.
Government Controlled Universal Health Insurance: A French Model
A few countries have attained universal health care coverage. Countries that have achieved universal coverage have different characteristics. However, majority of those that have achieved universal coverage have government controlled systems. Some have health care systems that are funded almost entirely by government. In France, the government controls various aspects of health care financing.
Attainment of universal coverage will be hastened if government is given a considerable amount of control. In France, a near perfect universal health care has been attained. The French health care system is largely under the control of the government. This system has been in place since the end of the Second World War.
It has undergone several modifications since then. The latest amendments were made at the beginning of this decade. The French system was rated as the best health care system in the world by the world health organization.
In France, health care is paid for by the government through public insurance fund. People who seek medical advice are required to pay the doctors from the pocket and later claim the amount from the public insurer. Up to seventy percent of cost is met by the government. The government also reimburses up to a hundred percent in cases of chronic illnesses or lack of income. Public insurance is the primary health care financer in France. However, non-profit private sector insurers exist. Public insurance system is used as a standard when setting premiums payable by various consumers. The insurance companies charge premiums that enable them to continue running. In the country, profit making does not override the desire to build a healthy nation.
Universal coverage is, by definition, a state in which all inhabitants of a country can access quality health care at the right time. This definition bears the concept of ‘everyone’. This refers to all residents regardless of their country of origin. In France, patients with chronic diseases are not turned away by insurance companies.
Everybody who resides in France is accorded an equal opportunity to receive quality health care. This component of the health care system was introduced in the year 2000. Residents who are employed and who are not also get similar treatment.
In France, the health care market is under tight control by the government. The government sets premiums based on income. It also determines the prices of reimbursable products and services. This has ensured that prices do not rise unnecessarily in response to speculation in the market. It appears that government controlled universal health insurance is superior to private sector controlled health insurance.