The United States health care system is a large compilation of government agencies, hospitals, doctor's offices, research centers and health-insurance companies. Many people are critical of how the health care system is structured, but it has many positive attributes.
The U.S. has some of the most cutting-edge medical treatment techniques in the world. We owe this in part to high scientific research standards. People come to America from all over the world to get some of the best care available anywhere.
Coverage for the Most Vulnerable
Although there are 50.7 million uninsured people in the U.S., the government does provide insurance for those who might have the hardest time providing for themselves. Medicare is a federal-government-run health insurance program to cover senior citizens and the disabled. Medicaid is a government plan that covers low-income people. The Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, provides healthcare for millions of uninsured children nationally. Additionally, the recently passed Affordable Care Act ensures that children and young adults are covered under their parents' or guardians' insurance until age 26.
Government institutions such as the Food and Drug Administration, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the National Institutes of Health help ensure that patients are given quality care, treatment and safe medications. The FDA can pull a drug off the pharmacy shelves if it is deemed unsafe. The NIH sets high qulaity standards for biomedical research. The mission of AHRQ is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans.
Another benefit of the U.S. health care system is that if you have the financial means, you can choose the type of health insurance you want. You also have the option to choose your own doctor. Some insurance companies require that you visit your primary-care doctor before being referred to a specialist.
Patient privacy is at the crux of the US health care system. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPPA, was enacted to ensure patient privacy. U.S. citizens can feel comfortable knowing that their health information will be protected.
Though a lack of health insurance continues to be a crisis in this country, emergency rooms cannot turn people away even if they are uninsured. Many people choose to go to the emergency room for care when there is no place else to turn to. This is not a solution to our nation's insurance crisis; however, this ensures some relief and expectation of care for the uninsured.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Health Information Privacy
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: National CHIP Policy
- US Census Bureau: Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009
- National Conference of State Legislatures: Covering Young Adults Through Their Parents' or Guardians' Health Policy
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: AHRQ At A Glance
- Photo Credit Heath Korvola/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Advantages & Disadvantages of American Health Care
The current American health care system consists of many types of privately- and publicly-funded health insurance plans, all of which offer various...