Globally, there is no any other nation that spends more on health care than the United States, yet in terms of health status, it is still positioned low. It is important that Americans should receive quality health care because they are the ones who support the economy by paying taxes. Recent surveys indicate that health care cost is one of the major problems encountered by the American families. In 2016, the cost of most popular health care insurance plans was projected to increase by about 8%. On the contrary, employers were expected to minimize the hours due to the directive of the health care coverage for their staff who work for over thirty hours in a week (Cohen et al., 2013). But what shocks is that none of these yields anything good for Americans. The effective way to address the problem of health care among American families is by addressing unhealthy behaviors and non-behavioral health determinants as well as embracing technology in medical treatments.
Addressing unhealthy behaviors among Americans is the first solution towards improving health care for Americans. Unhealthy behaviors are among the major contributing factor to early deaths in America. When it comes to promoting better health, it requires effort from all Americans and not just medical practitioners alone. Behavioral cause’s accounts for nearly 40% of all deaths recorded in the United States (Cohen et al., 2013). Even if the whole American population had access to quality medical care, still only a small percentage of these deaths could be preventable. In this case, the most common behavioral causes of death are obesity and tobacco smoking. Therefore, the improvement in the healthcare sector relies on the ability of various stakeholders and policymakers to influence behavioral change using various means. A previous initiative such as the tobacco taxation policy in decreasing tobacco smoking is enough proof that behavioral change is possible if the adequate effort is applied. Between 1955 and 2005, the popularity of tobacco smoking in the United States decreased from 57% to 23% respectively (Cohen et al., 2013). Various medical reports in the 1990s linked cancer cases to both active and passive smoking which prompted the development of various policies to curb the prevalence of tobacco smoking. Various legislations were passed at the national, state and even at community levels. Moreover, incorporating medical counseling for the cigarette smokers can also help them change their behavior and embrace the better healthy lifestyle. Although obesity may not be worse as compared to tobacco, it is still among the behavioral causes of death that has to be addressed. Restricting junk foods in the market could be the best measure to deal with this issue (Cohen et al., 2013).
We can do it today.
It is necessary to look at non-behavioral determining factors of health to improve health in the United States. Some of these factors are social and environmental elements. With regards to social factors, individuals from lower social class are likely to suffer from health complications since they lack the ability to afford quality medical care. Social class is the background of income, education as well as the residential location where individuals reside. The class which is a non-behavioral factor contributing to health plays a huge role in determining the health of the whole American population (Cohen et al, 2013). Furthermore, environmental factors such as lack of recreational facilities, air, and water pollution need to be addressed in order to improve American health. The individual in the lower social class is at a higher risk of being exposed to some of the health-destroying environmental conditions. However, the solution to the best initiative for addressing these environmental and social factors lies among the various policy makers which are mainly composed of politicians (Folkman, 2013).
Embracing technology is another way to improve health in the United States. Technology has seen great improvement in other industries which means that it has the potential to make health better if it is applied appropriately. Use of comprehensive electronic medical records that can be accessed by all medical practitioners across the nation is just one way through which technology can enhance healthcare delivery. By keeping these records electronically it is possible to know the specific medication for each patient while at the same time ensuring efficiency in health care delivery (Pearl, 2015). The same applies to the emergency health department where physicians often lack adequate time to retrieve manual records for the patients admitted to their facilities. By having access to the electronic records, more life can be saved hence improving the health of the American population. Mobile devices can be used to improve health. For instance, some diagnosis can be done by doctors via digital photography without individuals having to necessarily visit the doctor. Others can be done by video or even email messaging (Pearl, 2015).
To conclude with, addressing behavioral determining factors such as smoking and obesity through various policy interventions can contribute to better health. Non-behavioral factors such as environmental and social factors require intervention by various policymakers. Technology can also be applied to the healthcare system to improve quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery while also saving the cost of accessing medical care.
- Cohen, S., Evans, G., Stokols, D., & Krantz, D. (2013). Behavior, health, and environmental stress. New York, Springer Science & Business Media publishers.
- Folkman, S. (2013). Stress: appraisal and coping. In Encyclopedia of behavioral medicine (pp. 1913-1915). Springer New York. https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-1-4419-1005-9_215
- Pearl R. (2015). Three Ways to Transform American Health Care. Stanford Graduate School of Business. https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/three-ways-transform-american-healthcare