SOC 280 Influences of Politics on Healthcare System
What Is the Role of Government, Politics, and the Economy in the Healthcare System?
Go to this website: http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/
Use the following data in the subsidy calculator to research the cost of a policy for a family with these characteristics. Submit a response that answers the listed questions.
New York zip code 10001
2 Adults, ages 60 and 62
Total annual income of $25,000
What percentage of the Federal Poverty Level is this coupleâ€™s income? Give your answer in percentages and explain what the percentage means.
What percent of your total income do you need to pay for health care?
How much would you have to pay per month for health care if you did not receive a subsidy?
What would your subsidy be in dollar amounts and how much would you have to pay per month after the subsidy?
Now change the state to Alaska and keep everything else the same. What changes? Why do you think this happens?
What happens if the coupleâ€™s income goes up $1,000? Or $10,000?
What is the connection between government, economy, and politics? Examine your personal data and then answer the following question: Do you think the costs of insurance in this program are manageable?
Finally, describe the website and its overall purpose. How did you feel about navigating the website to obtain the needed information?
Following some discussion of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), this report explores the links between politics and the policies and planning of healthcare, in democratic societies. In many cases, politics are inextricably and irrevocably linked to healthcare provision and organization. The effects of those links are discussed. The report principally covers U.S. healthcare, but for a broader perspective, European Union aspects are also included.
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Universal Health Coverage
An important objective in any caring society is universal health coverage for all citizens; i.e. “to ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them.” (“What is universal health coverage?” 2012). To achieve that objective, a country needs to have an efficient, affordable and robust system of healthcare, well-staffed by qualified personnel, and whose importance is recognized by all sectors of the administration (“What is universal health coverage?” 2012).
To indicate its importance, the following statement was made by the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO): “Universal Health Coverage is the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer” (“Universal Health Coverage” 2012).
The influence of politics on the commitment to UHC is emphasized in a paper entitled “The political economy of universal health coverage” (Stuckler et al, 2010). The authors state that “Adopting UHC is primarily a political, rather than a technical issue” (Stuckler et al, 2010 p.2). Further, the authors believe that analysis suggests that increasing the share of GDP assigned for public health expenditure is associated with high political commitment, higher taxes, and a high level of democracy. Typically, expanded healthcare coverage sits alongside “increasing social welfare programmes” (Stuckler et al, 2010 pp.2-3).
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That view of UHC being largely a political issue is echoed by the following statement in a Chatham House report: “Universal health coverage (UHC) – the idea that all people should receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them − is intrinsically political” (Heymann 2014). It involves financial support by those who are better off to subsidize others who are “sick and poor” (Heymann 2014). That implies the need for the state to establish an affordable and equitable healthcare financing system, requiring political agreement between the various interest groups involved. Issues that have to be resolved to reach that agreement include how the system will be financed. According to Heymann, “Politicians increasingly recognize that UHC reforms can win votes and therefore bring them political benefits” and that UHC reforms and initiatives are frequently introduced by politicians just prior to elections or immediately on gaining power.
Another Chatham House report makes a series of key recommendations concerning the financing of health. Those include a government commitment of an expenditure on health of at least five percent of GDP, and introducing various measures to strive towards a situation of full UHC as soon as possible (“Shared Responsibilities for Health: A Coherent Global Framework for Health Financing.” 2014 pp.1-3).