Understanding a people’s welfare is an essential part in devising policies that are able to address the needs of a certain people. Health care decisions can be greatly shaped by a number of factors that affect and reflect the welfare of the people.
In the United States, the welfare of individuals including healthcare is shaped by the labor market, private provision of health care, voluntary welfare and the state. In view of the need to have effective health care reforms that are able to address the real needs of the people depending on their welfare state, it is important to be guided by a number of principles.
This paper discusses the principles that should guide health care reforms with a focus on the implications of the reforms on the United States.
There are three main aspects of health care that should guide health care reforms in any country. These include accessibility of health care, cost of health care and the quality of health care services. Ability to achieve these three aspects of health care can be termed as a comprehensive health care reform approach.
Despite the realization of the health care reform target areas, it must be realized that welfare issues in any society determine whether the goals are met. It is identifiable that the labor market has a great influence on the health care accessibility, cost and quality.
Employed individuals have incomes that can be used not only to access quality care but also to afford such care. In other instances, health care insurance is provided through the employer (Barr, 2004).
It should also be noted that by having a high level of employment, more individuals are assured that their welfare in times of sickness or even after retirement will be catered for. This implies that effective health care reforms would be achieved if any economy capitalizing in creating employment and ensuring that workers are well paid.
Provision of health care via a competitive market is useful in attaining quality health care. In order to successfully address the aspect of quality, it should be possible for health care providers to compete for consumers of health care services and products. Private provision of health care therefore becomes a vital part of health care reforms.
Individuals should be left free to seek private health care insurance and at the same time pay for their health insurance individually if they can afford (Barr, 2004). The United States should utilize such a policy in addressing health care for all. Since there are individuals who can afford to finance their health insurance privately, such should be left alone to freely exercise this freedom.
In an attempt to avoid leaving the unemployed and those who are unable to privately seek health care, the state/government has a responsibility to ensure that everyone access quality health care services.
As a principle of health care reform, the state can intervene by equipping everyone financially or by any other means in attaining quality and affordable health care. One approach of doing this is through taxing individuals that are in a position to afford health care and using the revenue to avail heath care services to the poor.
On another note, the government can decide to provide benefits to the less privileged and this would empower the power to gain access and afford quality healthcare. This health care reform approach is very useful for a country like the U.S. where income inequality is significant. By the government (federal or state) levying taxes from substantially high income earners, the health welfare of the poor is catered for.
For comprehensive healthcare reforms to take place, employees in the health care sector and the healthcare providers in general must be put into consideration. By ensuring that healthcare professionals work in the most favorable environment and they receive appropriate remunerations, the workers remain motivated to offer quality healthcare.
In addition, sufficient healthcare workers improve the productivity of the healthcare workers thus meeting quality healthcare (Barr, 2004). The U.S. therefore has to address the problem of shortage of healthcare staff and maintain appealing remuneration as part of a comprehensive healthcare reform.
As part of provision and delivery of healthcare reforms, the government may opt to finance healthcare but delegate the role of provision to private providers or finance and provide healthcare or purely delegate the entire role to private providers. However, to address the welfare of the entire society, the government must reform healthcare through public funding combined with public and private provision.
In conclusion, the welfare of people in the United States is challenged by the problem of unemployment, lack of affordable healthcare and inaccessibility to quality healthcare.
Considering the three aspects of welfare is the basis for healthcare reforms in the United States, the government has a central role to empower the people to access and afford quality healthcare by increasing employment level, encouraging private health care provision and financing healthcare. With these, healthcare reforms would be considered comprehensive and successful.
Barr, N. A. (2004). The economics of the welfare state. Fourth edition. ISBN 019926497x: Oxford University Press.