Health care is the system of treatment and improvement of a person’s health. It includes primary and secondary care, as well as prevention and rehabilitation. It also includes activities such as pharmaceutical manufacturing, drug distribution, and biotechnology.
In a free market, people have the freedom to choose which services they want and how much they pay. Some services are provided for free, while others require a patient to make a claim for reimbursement. The price for healthcare services comes down through free market competition.
The government’s role in the health care industry has changed over time. For instance, it has favored health insurance as an inexpensive stop-gap measure for expensive life-threatening risks. However, in the past century, health insurance has become bloated, inefficient, and costly.
While there are many types of health insurance, private insurance is the most common type. It provides coverage for two-thirds of Americans. Most employers sponsor a plan that covers workers and their dependents.
Private insurers must comply with state regulations and federal requirements. They set cost-sharing structures and benefit packages. These plans typically cover the full cost of care until the deductible is reached.
Medicaid, on the other hand, is a tax-funded program. The government provides funds to states for its program, although the federal government has only a minimal role in directly supplying providers. State and local revenues represent the rest of the Medicaid costs. This model is considered the most efficient because fewer providers are needed to provide a given service.
A key question is how much health care is actually spent. Expenditures are often expressed as a percentage of GDP. However, there are also other factors to consider. Research shows that the amount of spending on health care services is correlated with life expectancy. Therefore, investment in preventive care should be increased to help lower the prevalence of certain diseases. Additionally, a focus on environmental factors could help reduce future high-cost spending on preventable diseases.
Another important issue is access. There are many barriers to health care, such as geographic and social issues. Financial and personal limitations also limit the use of medical services. If a patient cannot afford to take time off from work to seek care, or has medical limitations that affect their ability to use services, the treatment may not be effective.
The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid eligibility with federal subsidies. It also introduced a range of consumer protections. ACA also required that states offer alternative insurance plans that meet minimum standards. As of 2020, ACA will remain law.
Although the ACA will remain in place, the Trump administration has rolled back some of its provisions. These include the removal of the individual mandate and some of the consumer protections.
People who do not qualify for Medicaid or the federally-subsidized private marketplace plans may qualify through other means. Some individuals may be able to enroll in a health plan based on their income, while others may qualify through a variety of life events.