While most Americans receive their health care through private insurance, the Affordable Care Act has introduced cost control levers for private insurers. Private insurers planning premium increases must submit those rates to the state and federal government for approval. State governments also have control over costs by regulating private insurance, establishing Medicaid provider fees, and developing preferred-drug lists and negotiating lower drug prices for Medicaid. In some states, such as Maryland and Massachusetts, they estimate statewide health expenditures and set annual growth benchmarks for health care costs.
The modern health care system is based on interdisciplinary teams of specialists from various fields. Public health practitioners, allied health professionals, and assistive personnel are all included in the process. The definition of health care varies by discipline, organization, and cultural perspective. Generally, the definition of health care includes primary care, secondary care, and tertiary care. There are several types of health care, such as community-based health, private health care, and home-based care.
The United States health care system faces serious quality and cost challenges. The United States spends more per person than any other country, accounting for 13.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. At the same time, the American health care system has failed to deliver superlative health outcomes. The IOM report outlines a comprehensive plan for improving quality and reducing costs in the health care system. Further, the report discusses how public health systems can improve access to health care for all Americans.
Recent changes in the health care industry have raised questions about hospitals’ ability to fulfill their roles. Public and private-sector insurance programs have limited the ability of hospitals to reimburse them, resulting in a shortage of nursing staff. However, the 9/11 terrorist attacks were not directly tests of hospitals’ ability to respond to a medical emergency. They did, however, bring attention to their lack of “surge capacity” – the ability to handle a large influx of severely injured patients.
As the aging population continues to grow, so do health problems. Currently, Americans are living longer than previous generations, and the projected number of people over 65 is expected to rise to 134 million by 2020. Almost half of all chronic illness patients have several conditions. These conditions are disabling and affect all age groups, although two-thirds of those affected are elderly. Chronic conditions affect almost half of the U.S. population. If this growth rate is not reversed, the health care system will fall behind.
Although the percentage of uninsured people under 65 has decreased, the gaps between racial and ethnic groups are shrinking. While Whites remain more likely to be uninsured than Blacks and Hispanics, the gaps between these groups have shrunk, as well. The National Center for Health Statistics also collects information on poverty levels. The federal poverty level is used as the baseline for poverty rates. Some providers offer free care to low-income patients.