Slow and Steady Change

Slow and Steady Change

I think the biggest challenge that health care reformers have faced in the past has simply been the fact that a significant portion of the population does not understand the health care system. For better or worse, it seems that health related issues have usually been overlooked or brushed over by politicians and the American public in favor of other topics, such as war, politics, or the economy. I know for me personally, I have never really been concerned with health care issues and until recently really had no idea of how the health system worked. Aside from children who have parents who work in the health care system or have experienced being in the health care system a lot, most children never really get taught about the American health care system the same way they are taught about financial literacy or American civics. As a result, most people don’t really have any exposure to health care unless they get really sick. A study from the National Academy of Sciences found that half of Americans were not aware of the health care exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act and that forty percent were unable to accurately explain what a “deductible” was. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those of lower income tended to have less understanding of the health care system than those of higher income, making it even more challenging for reformers. Without knowledge of how an existing system works, it is very difficult to reform that system.

My understanding of the history of American health care is limited since I am only 17, but I consider the Affordable Care Act to be the biggest failure in US health care reform. Contradictory to its name, the Affordable Care Act has actually caused the price of health insurance premiums to increase for most people. One year after its passage, costs of premiums increased 9% on average, and four years after its passage, costs had gone up 59% on individual plans. In addition, the ACA has been unable to convince many uninsured people to sign up for health care. A study in 2014 found that only a quarter of people who purchased an Obamacare plan were uninsured the year before. In addition, half of uninsured respondents said that affordability was their main reason for not purchasing insurance. Lastly, the Affordable Care Act has caused many health insurers to lose considerable amounts of money and withdraw from many states. As a result, people in Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, and other states will only have one option for health care next year.

Unlike the Affordable Care Act, I consider the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to be a success and a demonstration of the effectiveness of incremental change rather than massive overhaul. After ten years under SCHIP, the percentage of children uninsured fell greatly, even as the number of uninsured people grew. Perhaps rather than pushing for huge changes at once, health care reform could look for specific areas to target and improve on gradually.

8 thoughts on “Slow and Steady Change

  1. I agree with you that the greatest challenge to reform health care was the fact that so many people were uneducated on the topic. Similar to you, I am just learning about how health care works and how important it is. Most people who are familiar with health care are those who have personally been involved with it through work, illnesses, etc. However, many people do not often come in contact with the health care system and therefore do not understand it. As a result, they may simply jump on the bandwagon about what everyone else on the media is saying about health care even if they do not fully comprehend it.
    I actually disagree with you on the fact that the Affordable Care Act was the biggest failure in health care reform. Although it is not perfect, it was the first major reform in 70 years. The previous 70 years were filled with frustration as the branches of the government could not come together to agree on a bill for health care reform. The Affordable Care Act proved that health care reform was possible and I hope that has paved the way for more health care reforms so that health care can only continue to improve.
    I agree that the State Children’s Health Insurance Program was successful. This may indicate that in the future incremental changes may be the better way to reform health care due to the fact that the branches of government disagree so much on the topic of health care.

    1. I will agree with you that the passage of the Affordable Care Act was certainly a very important moment in American health care, but you never really mentioned any actual parts of the law you were in favor of. Change simply for the sake of change is not a model that our government should follow. I think the ACA was certainly passed with honorable intentions and I would also like for everyone in the country to have access to affordable, fair health coverage. However, I believe that changes to American health care should be made more gradually so that its effects on the health care system can be monitored and evaluated better as they are made, and based on your comments on SCHIP you seem to agree.

  2. Albert, I would totally agree with you in saying that much of the health care system and the reforms made to it are not properly understood by the public. Unfortunately, Washington insiders and special interest groups doesn’t always present the facts clearly and straightforwardly which causes confusion or preconceived notions by many in our society -conservative, liberal, or independent. I would also heartily agree with your judgment of the ACA being one of the biggest failures of American health care reform. This position does not in any way indicate my disfavor toward providing Americans with health insurance; the ability to live healthily and happily in the American democracy is a crucial goal that the government should work toward for all Americans, regardless of their ethnic, socioeconomic, or locational status. Nevertheless, I believe the ACA enforces detrimental regulations on families and businesses, all the while crushing the middle-class of America. In the long run, ACA will hurt underprivileged communities because it restrains them in the shell out of which they will not be able to advance due to oppressive government intervention. While I do think insurance companies and pharmaceutical industries need separate reform, doctors, health insurers, and pharmaceutical industries will suffer tremendously as a result of the stipulations in the ACA. Specialists in health care are being stripped of their autonomy and forced to comply and degrade their services. Certainly there are better ways to improve the health care system here in America. Thanks for your post.

  3. I completely agree that our populations lack of knowledge on healthcare contributes to the many problems we have with health care. If everyone was able to understand health care reforms to the fullest extent, perhaps the system could be better. Health care is often written in a way that only those who work in healthcare policy understand. This automatically sets the average American back in terms of understand their options.
    I also agree you with that the Affordable Care Act was a huge failure for health reform. Our goal as a country should be to ensure that everyone has easy access to health care. The ACA simply does not provide this. As you stated the ACA has not been very good at convincing people to get the healthcare they need. It is my hope, and I am sure the hope of many other Americans that our next president can reform our healthcare system to be to the standards that we all deserve.

  4. I would also agree that many Americans do not properly understand healthcare and it makes reform very difficult if not impossible in some cases. I would also agree that the ACA is in large part a failure on many levels. Many policies similar to the ACA have been met with political gridlock and overwhelming disapproval. I believe that the ACA had good intentions, but it puts people on every part of the healthcare spectrum in a difficult position. I believe the only way to fix healthcare is to create a truly bipartisan bill (regardless of who has control), that our government is ready and willing to reform when problems arise.

  5. Indeed, I too believe that the Affordable Care Act has not been as fruitful as originally intended and became a big failure in the US health care system. The intentions were good and seem to have always been when it comes to health care reform in the United States, but we have yet to reach a reasonable and effective solution to the problem of making health care more accessible to the entire population. Granted, ignorance of the general public has probably been the most detrimental part of health care reform next to the gridlock between legislators trying to pass new health care legislation. I believe the fastest and most efficient path to effective health care reform would be to increase awareness of how the current system works in order to ensure that the conversation is kept going by the people, not just those on Capitol Hill.

  6. I, myself, can also personally relate to the fact that not many Americans have knowledge on the health care system. Now that I think about it, I find it embarrassing/ironic how I have been interest in pre-health for such a long time but have not had any knowledge on the health care system. You would think that with all of the prevalent health issues in the country and the long-term repercussions that come with a single change in the system, they would educate students about the health care system somewhere along the road of school. Also, although those of lower income may have less knowledge on the system due to lack of access to resources, it could also be likely that kids/adolescents of higher socioeconomic status have less knowledge compared to those of lower socioeconomic status because they are privileged in the sense that they don’t have to worry about things such as the cost of insurance.

  7. I completely agree with your idea that the biggest challenge we face in the American healthcare system is lack of knowledge. Speaking for myself I have little to no experience with healthcare and could not really explain it to someone. It is important that the government begins to educate the public on all that the healthcare system entails before tragedy strike them. All too often people are struck abruptly by the standards of healthcare. Education on the issue is essential for American citizens to be able to represent themselves in the government and to spark interest so reform can begin to move more rapidly.

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