The current system of healthcare delivery is pressured by a whole set of legal, economic, and political factors. These factors are closely interrelated, and frequently produce combined (synergic) effects on the whole system of health care in the United States. It should be noted, that the U.S. is gradually coming to realize the need for a strategic healthcare reform.
This reform is driven by the need to reduce the cost of healthcare delivery and to increase the number of insured patients, with the cost being the major economic factor and the biggest economic concern within the system of the American healthcare. Finally, as the cost of healthcare services is rising, accountability and access of immigrant populations to healthcare are turning into the two most complicated and most controversial legal issues in healthcare. Resolving these issues is impossible without developing complex holistic approaches to healthcare.
Objectively, healthcare in the U.S. is currently treated as a privilege and not as an essential human right. As the costs of healthcare are rising and the quality of care is deteriorating, the need for a strategic political reform is becoming more and more obvious.
This year, a whole set of policies and suggestions has been developed to improve the overall quality and cost-effectiveness of healthcare delivery, including the need to invest in strategic changes, to expand insurance coverage, and to promote accelerated adoption of information technology (Davis, 2009).
The need to expand the scope of healthcare insurance coverage, to create a kind of a “socialized” healthcare system, and to provide better access opportunities to healthcare across different population groups – these political issues are yet to be resolved. Unfortunately, federal authorities seem to forget, that it is due to technological progress and innovation that the costs of health care delivery are going beyond the reasonable limits.
Moreover, it is due to the lack of insurance coverage that health care has turned into a kind of commodity; as a result, the discussed political changes should be accompanied by profound economic transformations in health care.
In their article, Roper and Cutler (1998) write that the cost of healthcare continues to escalate. These growing economic expenses are partially attributed to the decreasing number of insured population, to aging, and certainly, to the lack of accountability on the side of health care providers.
Although the article by Roper and Cutler dates back to 1998, nothing has dramatically changed since then, and the rising cost of healthcare remains the predominant factor of the major healthcare delivery failures in the U.S., but before healthcare providers improve their accountability and restrain themselves in their pursuit for wealth, numerous technical, political, and procedural obstacles are to be eliminated.
These include the need to construct valid systems for measuring healthcare outcomes; to develop easily accessible electronic information management systems; to agree upon performance measures across different healthcare facilities; and to provide cost-effective regular audit to healthcare data (Roper & Cutler, 1998).
All these economic concerns are also closely associated with the barriers, which immigrant populations face on their way to accessing health care services, turning this issue into a matter of the major legal concern.
It appears that immigrant populations’ access to healthcare is a serious legal issue, which affects the overall quality of health care delivery, and changes the essence of healthcare as of an important human right. Casey et al (2004) discuss rural Latinos’ access problems that “also reflect larger systemic problems in rural health care, such as shortages of physicians and other health care professionals”. The lack of bilingual services is just another extensive problem which Latino populations face in healthcare.
It should be noted, that immigration issues in healthcare are closely associated with the issues of human rights protection; these should not remain unnoticed, for it is the quality of health care services delivered to limited ethnic groups that will shape the general positive vision of health care in the U.S.
In the light of the discussed information, I personally believe that legal, political, and economic factors create a complex set of issues, which cannot be addressed separately but require holistic approaches.
Healthcare providers cannot promote cost-effectiveness without promoting accountability, which in its turn, grows out of the escalating healthcare costs, which in their turn are the results of misbalanced political actions. All these issues should be addressed at once, to make sure that not a single problematic factor is omitted on our way to better quality of healthcare delivery.
Casey, M.M., Lynn, A.B. & Call, K.T. (2004). Providing health care to Latino immigrants:
Community-based efforts in the Rural Midwest. American Journal of Public Health, 94 (10): 1709-1711.
Davis, K. (2009). Investing in health care reform. The New England Journal of Medicine, 360
Roper, W.L. & Cutler, C. (1998). Health plan accountability and reporting: Issues and challenges. Health Affairs, 17 (2): 152-155.