Photo Credit: Evan Brooks
A contentious subject, especially in the age of COVID-19, healthcare in the United States needs some work. Interestingly enough, some parallels between the possible paths the United States could take with healthcare, and how West Chester University deals with their health center, can be drawn. Before delving into some comparisons, understanding the current system we live under in the United States, and the one we have at WCU, are important first steps.
First, spending. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, (NCBI) “the United States spends more on health care services than does any other nation — on average, more than twice as much per person as the other OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries.” I am not as concerned with the U.S. spending more than most other nations on healthcare as a whole. My main point of concern is the U.S. spending more than twice as much on health care, as the idea of general inefficiency comes to mind.
I am not arguing the U.S. does not have one of the best systems in the world in terms of medical professionals, but the system of payment is certainly broken. In the first quarter of 2022, the U.S. government has already spent over $271 billion on health, taking up over 12% of total expenditures so far. Over the course of 2021, the total expenditure on health reached $1 trillion, and accounted for 10% of total dollars spent. Of the $1 trillion, $936 billion went to health care services.
The issue does not seem to be the amount of money we are spending on healthcare, we are spending more than everyone else, although the cost does need to be controlled. Understanding more about the U.S. system means understanding how most hospitals operate, and according to the NCBI, “most hospitals are owned by private non-profit institutions; the remainder are owned by governments or private for-profit corporations.” The basic thinking would be the cost an individual has to pay would then be lower, since most of the institutions are non-profit, but one of the many reasons behind the high costs in the U.S. is based on administrative expenses.
The cost of professionals is higher than other nations, increases at a faster rate than other nations, and then leads to higher costs for the average American. Insurance can help individuals with a plan, but copays are still an expense everyone pays. The American healthcare system is already paid with taxes, and the closest way we contribute money to our own health care, beyond a specific tax, is through insurance. One way the U.S. could go about spreading the weight of healthcare expenses is by doing what WCU does.
At WCU, there are student health services, and the services provided are partly paid for by a fee directly associated with health services, all students have to pay. I have been at the university for two years now and have never used the health center, but I still pay the same fee we all pay.
The system WCU has in place, where all students pay a smaller general fee, is what the U.S. could adopt on a larger scale. Now, I am not an expert as to the operations of the health center at WCU, and I believe insurance is still used in some capacity. The idea of a smaller weight spread across more people, so everyone pays less, is what most other OECD nations have established. In establishing such a system, maybe the U.S. could reduce overall costs, as well as the cost per person.
Evan Brooks is a fourth-year Business Management major with minors in Economics and Civic and Professional Leadership EB916132@wcupa.edu.