Considering available healthcare-related data, it is certain that the United States has the most expensive healthcare system in the world compared to other developed nations. Accordingly, many analysts argue that the increasing cost of delivering healthcare services in the U.S. is a possible threat to both the country’s economy/national budget and the state budgets. As a result, a series of articles and news reports recommend that the policies aiming at reforming the United State’s healthcare system should prioritize controlling the cost of healthcare besides gathering evidence of the successful implementation of the healthcare reform policies elsewhere before implementing any policies at the national level (Jacobs & Skocpol, 2010, pp. 1-8). In this essay, two articles are analyzed relative to major health reform issues highlighted by the authors. In addition, the issues raised by the authors are analyzed from a personal perspective before showing how the information provided by the authors can inform the development of health policies in the long run.
The articles analyzed in this essay include Stephen Zuckerman’s “What are the provisions in the new law for containing costs and how effective will they be?” and Sharon Long’s “What is the evidence on health reform in Massachusetts and how might the lessons from Massachusetts apply to national health reform?”
Analysis of the issues discussed in the articles
In Zuckerman’s article, the author highlights the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which according to health reformers aim at cutting the cost of healthcare delivery. These provisions include health insurance exchanges, excise taxes affecting healthcare plans reflecting high costs, reforming the delivery and payment systems, controlling the expansion of Medicare and private expenditure, promoting prevention and wellness programs, and preventing fraud/waste of public resources (Zuckerman, 2010, pp. 1-4). On the other hand, in Long’s article, health reform strategies in Massachusetts are reviewed to provide evidence of the possibility of applying the same strategies in the national health reform policies with the aim of improving the access, use, quality, and affordability of healthcare services (Long, 2010, pp. 1-4).
As a result, considering the issues raised by Zuckerman, it is worth noting that the author is of the idea that the provisions provided by the PPACA provide the modest way of containing the ever-increasing healthcare costs besides ensuring that the quality of services is checked (Zuckerman, 2010, pp. 1-4). The author’s perspective is true considering that relative to the pre-reform period; the Health Insurance Exchanges will provoke competition between service providers in that the competition for enrollers will be based on the ability of the provider to offer lower costs and the highest quality of products. Subsequently, the author notes that the excise tax regarding high-cost healthcare plans aims at controlling premium growth. However, this provision may not benefit the general population as such considering that it will not come into effect until 2018. And in a bid to reform the delivery and payment systems, Zuckerman (2010, p. 2) notes that the provision may help in terms of rewarding payers providing quality care compared to those providing more healthcare services. To this end, it is apparent that health policies will not only focus on Medicare and Medicaid, but also on other payers offering services reflecting quality care. Overall, Zuckerman attempts to show that various provisions in the PPACA including Medicare payment cuts and prevention/wellness programs provide possible means of cutting the overall healthcare costs in one way or another. However, it is important to note that these gains may not be achieved in the near future considering that many provisions are projected to take effect in the next 10-15 years. Thus, there is the need to look for more short-term strategies to control the overall cost.
According to Long (2010, p. 1), the Health Reform in Massachusetts provides evidence of the likelihood of implementing the same initiatives at the national level to realize various positive gains such as improved affordability and quality of services. Here, Long notes that the initiative implemented by Massachusetts is a first step toward ensuring that comprehensive insurance coverage is availed to all deserving residents parallel to the provisions of the PPACA. The challenges to sustaining the reform program notwithstanding, there is evidence to show that various initiatives underlying the health reform program have enabled the State to improve the accessibility, affordability, use, and quality of healthcare services to the greatest portion of the population since 2008. In the long run, there is the possibility that if the same initiatives were to be integrated into mechanisms aimed at implementing the provisions of the PPACA at the national level, the struggle towards achieving the positive benefits of the legislation may be realized sooner than expected.
The significance of the information in the articles
Considering that Zuckerman’s article highlights insights into the possible gains contained in the provisions of the PPACA relative to cost-containment, it is certain that this article forms an important theoretical basis for studies aimed at investigating the possible positive impact of the legislation on the current healthcare system. Besides, the article is equally important to policy-makers in that it offers information that can inform decision-making during the policy formulation and implementation stages. Conversely, in Zuckerman’s article, it is apparent that some provisions may take long for the positive benefits to be felt by the target population. As a result, Long’s article offers an alternative means of realizing the benefits of the PPACA in the near future through providing the framework for implementing some of the PPACA provisions at the national level as seen in the case of Massachusetts.
The need for timely, affordable, evidence-based, and quality healthcare services cannot be overstated considering the current issues in the healthcare environment. Therefore, this essay has highlighted the contents of two major articles regarding health reform in that the two authors provide possible insights into various initiatives aimed at cost-containment and quality care. First, through Zuckerman’s article, it is notable that cost-containment is possible through implementing various provisions of the PPACA. On the other hand, due to the time constraints noted in Zuckerman’s article, Long’s article offers alternative means of achieving the positive gains of the health reform programs through providing a real-world case study. Overall, the two articles are informative in the sense that they can inform the process of developing health policies in many ways.
Jacobs, L.R. & Skocpol, T. (2010). Health care reform and American politics: What everyone needs to know. New York: Oxford University Press.
Long, S.K. (2010). What Is the Evidence on Health Reform in Massachusetts and How Might the Lessons from Massachusetts Apply to National Health Reform? Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Urban Institute. Web.
Zuckerman, S. (2010). What Are the Provisions in the New Law for Containing Costs and How Effective Will They Be? Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/ Urban Institute. Web.