Health policy is defined as a statement of a decision concerning a goal in health care and a laid out plan for achieving that goal. It is a set objective to meet a required health need. For example to prevent an epidemic, a project for immunizing a population is developed and put into practice. (The Free Dictionary, 2009). The health policies that have been put in place indeed have significant impact on the social factors that help determine one’s health. Good health is essential for individuals to thrive as citizens, workers and consumers. OECD countries have therefore dedicated an average 8-10% of their GDP to health care.
Presently in the US, the federal policy accentuates the funding of personal health care services. This is a very good step towards improving the health care services. Although a lot of money is spent on personal health in the United States than in any other country in the whole world, only about 15% of the set health objectives are met.
The health care policies in the US are dedicated to achieving certain objectives although these policies are always dogged with several constant social factors which directly determine the success of the laid down policies. Among the health care policies is the need to create situations that lead to longer, improved lives for all Americans, abolition of health inequality, defending communities from preventable health hazards and make them learn, understand and address their health problems. (Jo Ivey Boufford and Phillip R. Lee, 2001)
It is worthwhile to evaluate the public policies against the common health determinants. Considering the social gradient, it is common knowledge that life expectancy and most diseases become more rampant further down the social ladder. Any laid out health policy must therefore put into consideration the social and economic determinants of a person’s well being. If a policy assumes the facts concerning the social ladder, it is guilty of ignoring one of the most vital social justice concerns facing contemporary societies.
Stressful circumstances are responsible for making people experience worries, anxiety and inability to cope. All of which are detrimental to health and likely to lead to premature death. The health policies should therefore focus on reducing the major causes of chronic stress rather than using a medical response of controlling stress with drugs. Governments should incorporate both psychosocial and material needs in welfare programmes since they are sources of anxiety.
The early life of any being is important in its development because it lasts for the rests of the person’s life, therefore, a good beginning in life should imply supporting mothers and young children. Any health policy should consider improving protective health care previous to the first pregnancy and improving the educational standards of both children and parents.
Through hardships and hatred, factors such as poverty, social exclusion and discrimination will cost individuals their lives. Life is relatively short if its quality is poor. Better health policies should overlap policies of tax, benefits and employment so that the government has a major impact on the distribution of wealth.
A health policy should look into matters concerning job security and reduce health risks faced by those out of employment. The latter improves health, well being and job satisfaction. On the contrary, advanced rates of unemployment are a recipe for more illness and untimely demise.
A well balanced diet and adequate food supply are central in promoting health and well being. A shortage over consumption of the same causes malnutrition and deficiency diseases. Health policies should focus on providing reasonably priced and nourishing food for all, more so the most susceptible.
The implementation of health policies indeed affects the lives of those involved either directly or indirectly. By altering the social, economic and environmental factors, it is no doubt those involved will have to be affected in one way or the other. For example, by educating an expectant mother on the dangers of smoking and drinking during her pregnancy and instead taking a healthy, nutritious diet; the mother is consciously saved from the health risks associated with smoking and drinking. On the other hand, the foetus is spared from the traumatizing effects of the drugs it would have Had subjected to it by the mother. As a result the foetus has a higher chance of survival and leads a more healthy life. Increased access to health care and protection against discrimination is other ways in which health care can be improved.
Already the impact of health policies on various social factors is evident; events on policies have taken an unimaginable turn in America over the years; the laws and policies have consequently been altered from mere prescription to insurance and medicine venues. As a result the whole outlook of health has acquired a different shape, although that is not the end of the road. There still has to be achieved the state of good health which can only be done by following the policies laid down within the health facilities in the United States. (Longest, 2006)
In conclusion, making of health policies can never be complete without the involvement of social factors that are the determinants of health.
Farlex (2009). The free Dictionary Web.
Jo Ivey Boufford and Phillip R. Lee (2001) Health Policies for the 21st Century: Challenges and Recommendations for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services HTTP.
Richard Wilkinson and Michael Marmost (2003). Social determinants of health; the solid facts. Web.