Broken America’s Health Care System Needs to be Fixed after the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed fundamental problems to the U.S. healthcare system and several new problems are also popping up. No doubt health care staff’s heroic should be applauded with full hearts, but meaningful and lasting changes need to be implemented in the system for everyone.
Several problems were exposed, when hospitals tried to purchase personal protective equipment, the devastating effects of the disease on the nation, and the challenges of an employer-based health insurance system amid the rising unemployment cases with more than 100,000 Americans losing their jobs.
As a responsibility towards the nation and subsequent generations, lasting changes in the healthcare system should be made for everyone, and the current COVID-19 crisis has given the opportunity that should be utilized properly. The initial step is to get back to a fundamental fact, the patients’ needs should always come first.
Today in the time of the pandemic, several people have suffered due to the fault in the current healthcare system. People who don’t have insurance, live in poverty, or live in areas where they don’t have access to doctors or a hospital have suffered the most. The healthcare sector has considered these problems as someone else’s responsibility. The healthcare sector has confined its job just to care for patients, strengthening their bottom lines to fulfill its mission within the competitive business model that inspires the health care system.
It is time for the healthcare community to take charge and prioritize the core issues of the system such as strengthening the public health systems and take accountability to improve the overall health of Americans. The health of the population is the most vital factor that needs to be measured.
Below some of the ways are mentioned that need to be implemented to fix America’s healthcare system.
Integrate and Collaborate – Though some of the healthcare systems are operating within its full range for their members in their specific area they operate, more of these linkages are required. Today right from rural hospitals, to university medical centers, community hospitals, and post-acute care facilities and physician groups need to integrate and collaborate for a better healthcare practice. With better and improved collaboration, infection-control practices can be improved, effectively tap into PPE supply chains, elevate the level of health care available in all communities. The federal government needs to reduce barriers for effective collaboration and suggest measures to promote it. The aim of the health care system should be to help each other rather than competing while rendering service to communities and the nation.
Work across boundaries – Health care needs to work across geographic and other boundaries. If there is a specific need in an area or a care facility, healthcare should immediately refocus on the resources to the area where they are required the most. Many systems took this initiative by sending teams and providing telehealth services to help overwhelmed patients in New York and other areas. This kind of interstate collaboration needs to be the national standard. One obvious way to start this is by relaxing state licensing for telehealth consultation across the states and also by consideration of a national medical license,
Create a Competent National Emergency Response – The Healthcare sector needs to re-envision and invest in a competent national emergency response so that they never struggle to have adequate PPE, testing, additional capacity in hospitals along with other assets. Similarly, at the state and local levels, the healthcare system needs to secure adequate infrastructures such as people, equipment, supplies, and facilities for expected future needs. At this level, vigilance needs to be woven into the health care infrastructure.
Change Volume-oriented Reimbursement System – A population health model may reduce overall health care costs by reimbursing hospitals and physicians for keeping people well and not for more visits or procedures. The expansion of this model will transfer payments to services where there is more need. Healthcare services like preventive services and behavioral health care are poorly reimbursed in the fee-for-service system.
Healthcare coverage and access for all Americans – Coverages such as Medicare, Medicaid, and individual and employer-based insurance coverage offers unpredictable access to all in the country. Medicare, Medicaid, and individual and employer-based insurance coverage offer unpredictable access to people. However, people need to know that pandemics don’t recognize an individual’s documentation or insurance status. It is extremely difficult for Medicaid to function effectively during a recession when healthcare needs are the highest and the state’s paying ability is its lowest. Medicaid partly relies on state contributions so functioning effectively will be tough. With jobless rate soaring and about 27 million people losing their employer-sponsored health insurance, it indicates that healthcare has a flawed model. The new model should start with an honest acknowledgment of the flaws in the current healthcare system.