A Prescription to Improve American Healthcare

Health & Gender Policy Brief #153 | By: Inijah Quadri | June 27, 2022

Header photo taken from: Commonwealth Fund




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The United States spends significantly more on healthcare compared to other nations, but we don’t have better healthcare outcomes.

Photo taken from: legacyhealthcare247

Policy Summary

According to the Commonwealth Fund, the United States spends more on healthcare than any other country in the world. However, when it comes to healthcare outcomes, the U.S. lags behind many other industrialized countries.

There are a number of reasons for this discrepancy between spending and outcomes. For one thing, the U.S. has a relatively decentralized healthcare system, with most care delivered by private physicians and hospitals. This leads to higher costs and less efficiency than the centralized systems found in other countries. As a result, Americans are paying more for health care than ever before, yet the quality of care is not keeping up.

Additionally, the United States is one of only a few OECD countries without universal health care. Despite the Affordable Care Act, which has made coverage more available for some, the US still has a long way to go in terms of providing quality, affordable health care for all.

Policy Analysis

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was put into place in 2010 with the goal of making healthcare more affordable and accessible for all Americans. The law has been controversial from the start, with Republicans and other conservatives arguing that it is unconstitutional and will lead to higher premiums and taxes. Supporters of the law argue that it was needed to fix a broken healthcare system.

So far, the Affordable Care Act has had mixed results. On the one hand, it has helped millions of people gain access to health insurance. On the other hand, premiums have increased significantly for some people, and some small businesses have seen their rates go up as well. This has led to problems among low-income earners; it has led to frustration among many people who are trying to get coverage.

To fix this gap, The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 introduced a public healthcare option in the United States. This option, known as “the public option”, allows individuals to purchase healthcare coverage from the government. The public option was to be made available to all U.S. citizens and legal residents, regardless of income or health status. The public option offers lower premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs than private insurance plans, and it was to be made available to everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions. However, there has been a significant debate over the merits of the public option, and as of this writing, only three states have taken active steps to implement it. 

Even with this lackluster attitude to implementing positive healthcare change, there is a broad consensus that the US healthcare system requires significant reform; there is less agreement on the specifics of what needs to be done. So, we will suggest a short prescriptive plan for improving US healthcare that focuses on preventioncost containment, and a formula for universal healthcare.


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AARP Why Prescription Drugs Cost So Much? Breakdown of factors explained above.

Photo taken from: AARP

(click or tap to enlargen)

One important step is to invest in prevention. Too often, people only seek medical treatment when they are already ill. This leads to increased costs and can often be avoided through preventive measures. So, promoting health prevention needs to be a top priority.

Another key element is to ensure cost containment. This can be done by expanding Medicaid eligibility and providing subsidies for those who need help paying for health insurance. Another way to ensure equitable access is to invest in community health centers, which provide affordable care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

Additionally, as the high cost of prescription drugs is a source of concern for many Americans, the government should negotiate prices with drug manufacturers and cap each product at a certain peak price. Another approach is to allow the importation of drugs from other countries, where prices are often lower.

Finally, we need to expand healthcare with a view to making it universal. There are a few steps that America can take in order to provide universal healthcare for all of its citizens. First, the government could provide more funding for Medicaid and Medicare, which would help more people afford healthcare. Second, the government could create a public health insurance program that would be available to all Americans. This program would be funded by taxes and would offer free or low-cost healthcare to its participants. If this option is chosen, taxes will directly fund healthcare and everyone will be covered—rich, poor, self-employed, employer, employee, etc. 

We urge policymakers to put patients first and work together to build a health care system that works for everyone. The time for reform is now, and we must work together to make our health care system the best it can be.

Engagement Resources​

Click or tap on resource URL to visit links where available 

Politifact logo

Politifact: The Poynter Institute (https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2015/sep/01/dan-gecker/dan-gecker-says-us-only-wealth-nation-without-univ/, https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2019/jun/21/mark-pocan/universal-health-care-diagnosis-mark/)

The Commonwealth Fund (https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2020/jan/us-health-care-global-perspective-2019#:~:text=In%202018%2C%20the%20U.S.%20spent,%2C%20Switzerland%2C%20spent%2012.2%20percent.)

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Brookings (https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2019/07/16/healthcare-reform-a-consensus-on-values-but-an-administrative-road-to-nowhere/)

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