Updated: Sep 3
The problem with most modern approaches to understanding healthcare problems in the U.S. is that one only looks to find the big solutions and forgets to focus on the basics.
What happens is similar to the elephant in the darkroom analogy — different people focus on various aspects and come out with their findings. The tale of the elephant in the darkroom, for instance, focused on how six different blind men inspected other parts of the elephant, from the trunk to the ear, to define what they felt was true — which was anything from a water pipe to a large fan.
It’s important not to be blinded by our perceptions when working on a solution — and can look at the bigger picture — the whole elephant. It is not just medical unawareness but even social prejudices that contribute to the lack of treatment. Gynecologists, for one, may not appreciate the mental health problems of the patient during treatment.
Does the Single Payer System Solve the Problem?
Many believe that solving the health care coverage problem with a single-payer system, ACA, or even the American Healthcare Act will help the physicians or the patients.
It will not!
It’s like touching the trunk of an elephant in the dark. Sure, the single-payer tax system has a good number of benefits:
Offers mass coverage and access to healthcare
Affordable treatment for all
Access to healthcare for all ages, even those above 60 and children below 18
However, it does not solve a fundamental problem — the lack of access to doctors. Instead, with time, it increases the tax imposed on people.
What is the Problem With American Healthcare?
Over the years, there have been several efforts to know what is wrong and came out with a different diagnosis.
1. The Need to Improve Electronic Health Record System (EHR)
Here, physicians looked at how better patient records could help them in the treatment. The easy access to comprehensive medical history ensures timely patient care when required.
2. The Problem of Reimbursement
Here, the need for accessibility of funds for medical treatment was given focus. Despite this, the United States spends as much as 17.1% of its GDP on healthcare services. When it comes to healthcare services and yet is ranked a meager 37th globally, the highest in the world.
Reimbursement concerns are many — both as to the healthcare Act itself and the way insurance premiums have shaped up in the country, and hospitals often charge more than reasonably required. Insurance coverage, for instance, was meant to ensure that patients who couldn’t afford to pay could get access to all the healthcare services.
People, as a result, started going in for all medical treatments offered by their insurance coverage, looking to save money.
Here is the thing with insurance, though — the more people use it, the more would its cost go up — thanks to the supply-demand principle. The lesser the supply and the more the demand, the higher the price.
3. The Cyber Security Issue
How safe are patient records with physicians? It’s been another point of contention recently, with an increased focus on ensuring no data breaches. There is a high demand for medical records in the black market, and employee negligence remains a source of concern too.
While all these have their roles to play in bettering the healthcare system, individually, they are just different parts we are percieving.
The focus needs to be on the patient care model itself — it is so disarranged that no traditional model can help rectify it.
Healthcare starts with us, the patients and the physicians.
Reinventing How We See Healthcare
To rectify the model of healthcare would require us to change the very way we perceive healthcare.
How does the patient-physician interaction work?
What is the physician practice organization structure?
How can you ensure end-to-end support without dictating the system?
Every person deserves access to affordable, high-quality healthcare, and we can do that by building a market-led healthcare system and not a government-led one.
Let us take a look at the Affordable Care Act’s guiding principles itself. It intended to better patients' relationships with physicians and ensure that emergency departments were used less — since the focus was on providing timely treatment to patients. The intent was that by building better patient relationships and timely care, the overall cost of healthcare would come down in the country — anything has happened but that.