The US healthcare system continues to face numerous challenges, which make the access and delivery of quality care difficult for many Americans. Martinez et al. (2016) assert that reform efforts meant to enhance the healthcare system over the past four decades, particularly since the establishment of the Healthy People Initiative in 1980, have yielded inconsistent patchy results. Americans continue to grapple with escalating costs, inefficiencies, and variations in the quality of care, among other problems. These challenges comprise the key areas requiring improvements. In essence, it would be helpful if the Healthy People Initiative plan for 2030 focused on reforms to improve two critical areas: to reduce and stabilize the costs of care and alleviate inefficiencies in the system.
Rising Cost of Healthcare
The cost of healthcare has been rising over the past decades, a situation that deprives vulnerable groups of the opportunity to access quality care. According to Martinez et al. (2016), improvement initiatives are needed to stabilize healthcare spending because the cost has been rising at a strangely fast rate since the Great Recession. Nevertheless, the largest share of the US budget goes to healthcare and is expected to constitute up to 20% of the country’s GDP by the year 2024 (Martinez et al., 2016). Surprisingly, Americans do not receive the desired quality of care despite the fact that the federal government spends over $3 trillion on healthcare (Riegelman & Kirkwood, 2015). The expenditures on health are similarly high at the state level, as governments allocate up to 32% of their budgets to healthcare (Martinez et al., 2016). Hence, the cost of care must be stabilized for the certainty that both the federal and state governments can sustainably support crucial healthcare programs.
Inefficiencies in the System
Improvements are also needed to alleviate inefficiencies in the US healthcare system. Martinez et al. (2016) posit that inefficiencies, which lead to waste, account for a significantly large share of the healthcare cost problem. Some of the critical areas where inefficiencies leading to waste occur include overtreatment, uncoordinated care, administrative complexities, and pricing inconsistencies (Riegelman & Kirkwood, 2015). Martinez et al. (2016) noted that an earlier report by the Institute of Medicine revealed that up to 30%, an equivalent of $750 billion, of the 2009 federal government spending on health went to waste. Resolving this problem could lead to a significant reduction in both the federal and state governments’ spending on health. Therefore, reforms to make healthcare more efficient are highly recommended, as they would mean patients receive the desired quality of care services while the system operates cost-effectively.
In overview, it is apparent that the US healthcare system requires critical reforms and improvements to serve its purpose of delivering quality care services. The need for improvement changes can best be understood from a review of the challenges facing the system. Particularly, the high cost of running the sector and inefficiencies in its processes are among the key areas requiring improvements. Appropriate reforms must be incorporated in the Healthy People Initiative plan for 2030. Both federal and state governments, as they are the main purchasers of healthcare, would be able to provide quality affordable care to citizens if the cost of care was minimized and stabilized. Besides, reforms to make the system more effective and efficient would go a long way in reducing the cost of care.
Martinez, J. C., King, M.P., & Cauchi, R. (2016). Improving the health care system: Seven state strategies. National Conference of State Legislatures, 1-28.
Riegelman, R. K., & Kirkwood, B. (2015). Public health 101: Healthy people–healthy populations. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.