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2012: The Future of Health Care

By Helen Anderson
Food Pyramid -

Health care of days past

Once upon a time, there were two options when it came to medical care: either you received it, or you didn’t. Perhaps at one point, the split between those who could afford health coverage and those who couldn’t may have appeared to be an even toss-up. If you fell into the group that didn’t have coverage, it wasn’t the end of the world. Out of pocket expenses for a visit or prescription weren’t completely impossible to provide for.

It’s not hard to see that things are very different in our modern day and age. In 2009, the Kaiser Family Foundation released the findings of their own data collection to USA Today. In their research they estimated that the average cost of health care premiums had increased 131% over the last 10 years. These findings were released only a year after the U.S. faced the beginning of its economic crisis. In 2012, the cost of health care is nothing if not on the rise.

When a social issue becomes a need

The welfare system in the United States has been an integrated part of our society for many years. The fact that it exists at all tells us a story of poverty. From the outside, it may be easy to overlook issues of hunger, low-income living and homelessness when many see the U.S. as the land of plenty. While we do have gifts of excess in certain sectors, this does not mean that need is non-existent.

Before the start of the economic crisis, the rising cost of health care was an issue, but not necessarily a daily fear. In 2012, with unemployment at an all time high and social unbalance a new reality; citizens are demanding answers and solutions for coverage they feel they deserve.

When a free handout just doesn’t cut it

In a simpler time, Medicaid and Medicare were the two go-to solutions for those who couldn’t afford health coverage. Today, there is a need for more comprehensive options because the problem has become only more complex. As the number of people without health coverage grows, government funded Medicaid has been forced to restructure their own requirements in order to be able to provide continued service. While Medicaid is available, not everyone qualifies. In addition, the U.S. is facing a more diverse population of people who are seeking aid.

Gone are the days where the vast majority of those who utilized Medicaid were living at or below the poverty line with little hope of rising above it. Today, the U.S. plays host to a variety of people whose life circumstances necessitate the need for government, state or organizational funded help. When looking at who needs health coverage we now need to additionally take into account the following groups:

  • The recently unemployed
  • Graduates without employment opportunity
  • Low-income middle class families keeping multiple small jobs
  • A growing immigrant population

When we take all of these different groups and issues into check, we have to step back and ask: who is best equipped to help provide for them?

Innovations in 2012

It is not a stretch to say that this will be the year of integrated goals and solutions when it comes to providing affordable health care for Americans. With so many issues on the table, it becomes increasingly clear that a single answer is not going to provide for all. So what can we do?

Government organizations and free health care facilities alike are realizing the need for systems that don’t simply hand out free help; but provide a path to helping people get back on their feet. One time help is a temporary fix, but only perpetuates the problem in that it doesn’t account for the long-term health of our citizens. By working towards innovative health care solutions, the system is making steps towards transforming into a useful tool for not only the poverty-stricken, but the vast majority of Americans.

Government changes in Medicaid and age limits

While health care reform is consistently a hot topic in Washington, some of the affordable healthcare outreach programs have benefited from recent changes. In March of 2010 President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act which set out a four year plan to improve upon the current health care system. Under this plan, Medicaid has seen some innovative improvements. While still not accessible to everyone, this act increases the budget and available prenatal services to women who do qualify for it.

The idea is that in giving low-income mothers of newborns a healthier start in life, there will be an increased chance that those same babies will grow into strong, healthy, self-sustaining adults. Similarly, a mother who receives proper prenatal care will be provided with more resources to take care of herself and hopefully move forward with health and employment opportunities in her own life.

The Affordable Care Act is giving a helping hand to recent graduates in the year 2012. By increasing the age of general health care coverage to 26, students who find themselves out of school and unemployed are able to remain on their parents’ insurance plan for an extra year while they search for work. While this does not take into account individuals who are no longer dependent on their families, it does help a significant percentage of the graduate population by creating a small time buffer in their job hunt.

Free health care facilities and beyond

Outside of government movements, free health care facilities in general are moving towards a system of sustainable health care. Many organizations now require that low income patients participate in on-going health and social education. The goal is that these courses along with health care services will provide opportunities for growth in each individual’s life.

Some groups are looking outside of health facilities for answers. In 2012, PBS will launch a four hour series titled “Designing Healthy Communities” which will highlight the need for new city set-ups as a way to promote health and fight common diseases; many of which boost the cost of healthcare. The show will highlight unique and innovative solutions for creating health-friendly cities as a way to deter from coverage costs.

Whether it’s a change in government policy, integrated free services or healthier communities, Americans are coming forward in a united front against the rising cost of health care. Do you think that our efforts will be effective in 2012?

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