The issue with the health care system in the United States is the incredibly high cost of care, not the lack of coverage. The discerning lack of coverage is actually a consequence of the high cost of health care. If the cost of health care was kept in check, it would quite possibly ensure the expansion of coverage. Mitigating health care costs by controlling the very factors that appear to be driving health care costs would ensure that more people would have access to medical insurance. The question that the country is asking is ,”Is it possible to ensure coverage for all citizens?”. While the answer can be a resounding “yes”, this is only possible if these rising health care costs are publicly addresses resolved through government and public policy. More importantly, combatting and successfully addressing and resolving the issues of supply and demand in the health care sector are the only ways in order to ensure quality health care at an accessible rate for all citizens.
The search for solutions to rising healthcare costs must begin with finding a way to govern the demand for health care and ensure sufficient supply of health professionals. All the factors that have driven up costs in the past and promise to do so in the foreseeable future largely revolve around demand. The next few sections discuss how consumers in the U.S. value choice and enjoy the freedom to determine their own health insurance and the way in which they receive health care. By reviewing specific drivers and modulators such as choice and freedom, we can explain how the demand for health care affects price and quantity and begin to discuss possible solutions.
While offering freedom of choice among providers and health insurance plans is a major feature of employment-based coverage, employers have successfully moderated unbridled fee-for-service freedom to choose because of cost concerns. Because health insurance is typically a component of a benefit package, employers play an important role on behalf of their employees, functioning primarily as intermediaries among individuals, health insurance companies, and healthcare providers. There is nothing inherent about the provision of health care that requires employers to get involved; it just happens to be the way the process of purchasing and paying for health insurance and health care evolved in the United States. How effectively has employer-based managed care balanced choice and costs?
Regrettably, the market for health insurance has not performed well. From 2000 to 2006, the percentage of the population with employer-based health insurance declined from 64.2 percent to 59.7 percent, and the percentage of uninsured Americans increased from 13.7 percent to 15.8 percent (DeNavas-Walt 2007). These changes are due primarily to the increasing costs of providing health benefits. While employers have successfully moderated demand with an eye toward costs, all is not well. Employer benefit plans can vary significantly because...