There is nothing that any American wants more than affordable and high quality health insurance. But why is this so difficult to achieve? After all, we are the developed country that does not have universal healthcare.
To simply answer this extremely complicated question, the American economic system is built differently and based on different principles than Europe. While European countries pride themselves on taking care of their citizens, America values industry and competition which has given major insurance companies the opportunity to flourish, driving up the price of health insurance, much to the detriment of the average American citizen.
Now that we have the Affordable Care Act, in theory, this problem should be fixed. After all, in a few years we will have a public alternative to private insurance, hopefully providing high quality coverage while remaining affordable, as the name of the act states.
Unfortunately there are still some barriers to overcome, or even that cannot be overcome as well as compromises to be made to achieve this portion of the American dream.
One of these reasons is the high price of sophisticated technology. New technology does genuinely make for higher quality care. Testing that detects illness sooner and electronic medical records that help each doctor visited to understand each patient’s medical history to prevent many preventable errors.
Not just technology is improving. Pharmaceutical companies are constantly making great strides to treat and cure diseases. But expansion of the pharmaceutical industry requires a significant amount of costly and lengthy research. And with the controversy surrounding patent laws, pharmaceutical companies often have to spend even more money than anticipated.
But with sophistication and precision comes price.
Prescription drugs are commonly referred to as a hidden cost of health insurance or even of health. Not included in the monthly premium, prescriptions are often paid for out of pocket and really add up, especially for serious and aggressive illnesses.
Patients do not realize these costs until they are forced to pay for their drugs and by then they often do not have any other choice.
It seems that there needs to be a balance struck between price and technology. This is the only way to keep the prices at a reasonable place.
In truth, this type of balance has not been struck yet. It works like a large experiment that each country with sufficient resources attempts to solve. The question is how do you measure success? Is it being able to cure the most mysterious disease or help the greatest number of people? Unfortunately, these ethical questions don’t have any concrete answers and depend on those in power.