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Challenges to Healthcare in the 21st Century

At its best, American healthcare in the 21st century is world beating. Incredible strides in prevention, diagnosis and therapeutic services have been made in the past 100 years. We can prevent and cure diseases that were a certain death sentence a few years ago, and life expectancy has gone from age 47 to age 77 in 25 years.

However, this level of care isn’t available to all Americans. Millions can’t afford insurance at all, and many who do have insurance don’t have access to adequate care. The biggest challenge is to reduce the escalating costs, while improving both availability of care, and its quality.

One strategy for meeting this challenge is Managed Care. This includes a variety of techniques and tools designed to reduce costs and improve quality, and it’s now used by the majority of private health benefit programs. However, most critics believe this strategy has failed in its objective of keeping costs down.

A major requirement for healthcare in the 21st century is universal electronic health records. A lot of progress has been made, but there are still a lot of gaps in coverage. When the system is widely adopted, it will have a major effect in increasing efficiency, and thus reducing costs and improving quality.

Another scheme which should provide more access to affordable healthcare is the tax-free HSA, or Health Savings Accounts, system, provided through employers. By 2012, nearly half of all companies were offering these plans. They give consumers a greater stake in their own healthcare, and more control over their healthcare decisions.

If there’s one major challenge to healthcare in the 21st century, it’s the escalation of chronic diseases, like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, that are linked to preventable causes. This is currently the biggest threat to the health of most Americans. What’s more, these diseases account for 75 percent of healthcare costs.

The major factors in these diseases include smoking, bad diet and lack of exercise, and obesity rates have more than tripled in the last 25 years. One positive step has been the setting up of the Federal Fund for Prevention and Public Health, as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Public health interventions, such as encouraging better behaviors, have been proved to affect a dramatic increase in the impact of expanding health insurance coverage.

Healthcare in the 21st century is a system of contrasts — the world’s best quality care on the one hand, and on the other, inefficiencies, soaring costs, inequalities in care, and increasing numbers of uninsured. There are a number of strategies in place to restrain costs, enhance quality and increase access, and it’s to be hoped that some of these will succeed. Success will bring about a system which the population deserves, and of which the country can be proud.

5 Responses so far.

  1. Brian says:

    To me, for living in the best country in the world and having the most freedoms and privileges that we do, our health care leaves a lot to be desired. If you can afford it, what you need to have covered isn’t because the hospitals and doctors all need to buy that new house next year or the newest Mercedes out. I’m sorry but insurance doesn’t need to be so expensive, neither does the treatments.

  2. Richard says:

    I have noticed over the past three or four years that they have started these health and wellness program where they encourage people to eat right, exercise and get physicals yearly and they are actually paying them to do these things. The one thing I think that needs to happen is the price of the good foods needs to drop drastically and raise junk food prices.

  3. Louise says:

    I love the idea of your post but I think in this day and age it would be easier to list the things that are not challenges to the healthcare plan because there are so few. I have never been more disgusted over our medical insurance then I am right now. I was informed that my mom pays $700 a month for pills that she takes because no one else takes them.

  4. Delma says:

    I have met nothing but challenges sense I turned 55 last year. They know exactly when to raise the rates and everything because they have it down to a fine art as to when people start having health problems. Thank you for posting this it will be very helpful in the days to come and when I am meeting with my insurance agent to discuss my insurance.

  5. Jared says:

    I think we are all in for a huge eye opener when the new health insurance starts in 2014, you think we have challenges now? I am so tried of the insurance telling me what I can and can’t have done when even the doctor is telling me I should and they deny it. Thank you for doing this post I will bet that you will do another one in the near future.

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