The Rising Cost of Health Care: Effects on Access to Care
The rising cost of health care is a trend that is negatively influencing access to health care. According to our course textbook, Policy and Politics in Nursing and Health Care, over 46 million Americans did not have health coverage in 2008, and 25 million American adults were underinsured (p. 124-125). For most people, this can be attributed to the high cost of premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the history of the trend of rising health care costs, the influence rising costs have on the delivery of health care, how rising costs create disparities in health care, and two ways that nurses ...view middle of the document...
Current priorities in health care favor heroic tertiary care over less costly preventive care, which could result in better economic and human benefits (Sultz & Young, 2011, p. 22). Patients without adequate health coverage because of the high cost of premiums and co-pays, and out-of-pocket expenditures, do not access primary care, which focuses on the prevention of disease. Instead, they seek health care at the tertiary stage for the treatment of illnesses versus the prevention of illness. Better health outcomes would result if interventions were initiated in the prevention stage. Unfortunately, lack of affordable health care for many perpetuates the focus on treatment versus prevention, and therefore, results in poorer health outcomes.
Another influence the rising cost of health care is having on the delivery of health care today is that health care workers, such as nurses, are feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. These feelings can lead to burnout and cause many nurses to leave the profession. Budgetary constraints in the health care system reduce the number of caregivers at patient bedsides, and increase the burden on those left to provide care. Frustrated with the inability to provide the quality care they feel their patients deserve, many nurses choose to leave the profession. This perpetuates the lack of caregivers at patient bedsides and leads to more frustration by nurses and patients alike.
Creation of Health Care Disparities
The rising cost of health care helps to maintain disparities in health care because it creates an unequal playing field for those seeking care. Health insurance is provided by Medicaid and Medicare to elderly and disabled people and poor children. People working for large companies receive health insurance through their employer. Unfortunately, people working for small businesses, those self-employed, and the working poor are left without options to purchase health insurance at an affordable cost. This creates a divide between the haves and have-nots in terms of health care. Those who have health insurance will access the care they need, but those who do not have insurance will go without. This may include primary care interventions such as immunizations and regular health screenings. Rising health care costs have a direct effect on the number of uninsured individuals and, therefore, a direct effect the number of individuals that can access care.
Strategies to Address Inadequate Access
One way that nurses can address the current inadequacies in access to health care is by educating the public regarding the need for everyone to have equal access. The public should be advised that when citizens go without care, there can be public health implications, such as resurgences in diseases like tuberculosis (White & Atmar, 2002). Nurses should educate the public on the cost savings that can result by providing a national health insurance program for everyone because of a decrease in...