America’s healthcare industry shows us one of the most revealing contradictions in the country’s economy. Even though America claims itself to be the world’s most advanced superpower, it is still unable to provide its entire population with healthcare and even worse, the quality of its healthcare overall is declining in many ways that will be discussed here.
Though many democratic nations provide all of their citizens with healthcare access, the United States instead tries to concentrate the control of medicine into the hands of big businesses like the insurance industry or the pharmaceutical companies.
The result is that the United States has a healthcare industry with a reputation that is getting worse, with large companies benefiting but average Americans suffering from the consequences of this.
Overall, though healthcare should be a right to all Americans, it is treated more like a luxury only available for those who can afford it, creating an industry that cannot continue on its current path and also stay effective at meeting its responsibilities.
The parties that are the most important stakeholders in America’s healthcare industry are; the consumers of the American public; medical industry corporations such as insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and managed care firms; publicly provided healthcare programs or facilities; and the United States government as a whole.
The current reality in the medical industry is that while the government and the corporations are sharing the profits of this situation, the medical consumers and the publicly funded, free medical programs are losing out.
Public health is the entity with the lowest level of representation in American healthcare, with costs of healthcare not just making healthcare unaffordable for a large percentage of the population, but at the same time making up about 15% of the national GDP as a result of the same cost issues. (NCHC, 2004, p. 1)
This shows that the high costs of healthcare are not because it is getting too expensive for the average American to afford. Instead, it is because insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies are trying to get more profit from the American people.
Truly, this points to biggest stakeholder in the current state of American healthcare. While the U.S. economy has experienced a continuing downturn in its rate of growth between 2000 and today, the healthcare industry has grown.
On the power of “employer health insurance premiums [that] increased by 9.2 percent – nearly three times the rate of inflation”, America’s largest medical insurance companies did far better than technology and retail sectors during this time in terms of economic growth (NCHC, 2004, p. 1):
“The California Nurses’ Association said that the world’s 13 largest pharmaceutical companies earned $62 billion in 2004, while the 20 largest HMOs in the United States made $10.8 billion in the most recent fiscal year and hospital profits hit a record $26.3 billion in 2004.” (UPI, 2005, p. 1)
This would contrast the continually slow growth of the overall economy. These figures show the effects on the consumer, who as a stakeholder has been excluded from a lot of the decision-making processes effecting such things as healthcare costs and the laws surrounding them.
The U.S. government, as a stakeholder as well, has devoted less of the public’s financial investment in promoting innovation than it has in lowering tax costs for large companies.
The government characterizes this priority as a way to encourage growth of large companies so that they can improve the quality of their service. However, the effect on the average American has not been this way. Instead, Americans are finding that the healthcare industry is getting more difficult to benefit from all the time.