The Problems and Solutions to American Healthcare column by Avery Meyer
How best to provide healthcare to people continues to be vigorously debated between economists and politicians. Medicare for all, or a single payer healthcare system, is typically a democrat and liberal rallying point. They believe that the government should provide healthcare as a “human right,” to put it in Bernie Sander’s words.
Most Republican/Conservatives believe that a better solution resides in the free market and private enterprise providing the services. These are of course not the only solutions put forth but they are the most mainstream in American politics. Questions remain on how to provide good healthcare and service without spending a fortune.
No matter one’s opinion, pretty much everyone on all sides agree that healthcare in the United States is not sustainable and we need reform. But before determining what is the best way to proceed, there needs to be a clear definition of what is wanted want. These factors appear to be three things; quality, access, and innovation.
Quality is how good the care actually is. Access, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is “the timely use of personal health services to achieve the best health outcomes.” Basically, this means how widely available healthcare services are. Innovation is one that is often overlooked.
Innovation accounts for research and development of new products, services, policies, and systems that seek to improve the domain of quality and the disparities of healthcare. While our health programs remain sub-par, we have provided over half of all new medicines in the last decade according to Selectusa.gov. These new medicines not only save millions of lives worldwide, but also boost our economy.
We must keep this in mind, we do need to provide good healthcare, but we also need to provide the atmosphere needed to continue developing new treatments. We must find a way to balance these factors and make sure they each receive enough attention to satisfy all of these goals. Perhaps one important part of the solution to solve the healthcare problem is for individuals to take better care of themselves and their health.
This is a solution that doesn't involve government policy or intervention. In 1900, the three leading causes of death in the U.S. were influenza, tuberculosis, and infections. Thanks to medical innovations these have been mostly stamped out.
Now, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) it's mostly chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and non-infectious lung disease that are leading the way today. The majority of these are avoidable through a healthy lifestyle. If someone eats right, partakes in physical activity, and avoid tobacco there is a 93 percent reduced risk for diabetes, an 81 percent reduced risk of heart attack, a50 percent reduced risk of stroke, and a 36 percent reduced risk of cancer.
If you want a more pragmatic solution to healthcare, we would want to pride ourselves on these tenants. We need to take it upon ourselves to build an environment where we push the ideas of health and disease prevention in school curriculum as well as in the real world. This makes the most economic sense and can leave us open to spend more money in the field elsewhere.