Health care may be described as the treatment or management of illness. Broader descriptions may also include preserving of health through services that may be offered. Health care services may range from services such as medical, dental, pharmaceutical, clinical sciences and other services that may tend to either promote or maintain health care. The term health care is borrowed from British English. Before the term became popular many would usually refer it to medicine or otherwise the health sector. They would only describe the principles behind health care as the treatment and prevention of illnesses and diseases (Kokol, 779).
This has in the few years led to intensive debate among the population of the US as regarding the use of the term. The term is very confusing among the populous of the country with more confusion being added by the introduction of terms such as health insurance and public heath care. It may be important to note that most of developed countries except the US have comprehensive health care policies that are characteristic of universal health care definition. This means that these countries have health care cover for the all its eligible citizens. These countries will most of the time finance the health care from the public coffers.
The history of health care policies can be traced back to Germany which was one of the pioneers of health care. Germany is accredited as being one of the countries that came up with a draft which was close to the real health care policy of modern times. The Otto von Bismarck’s social registration was one of the major steps that Germany took to promote health. The legislation in the early 1880’s incorporated various policies such as insurance for accidents, health, old age and disability.
However it was in Britain where the first major step towards achieving health care took place. The national act of 1911 provided cover to most employees and their dependants. The act went further to include all those who had been contributors of the scheme whether they were employed or not. This system lasted for about 47 years until it was overshadowed by the introduction of the National Health Service in the mid 1940’s. The service improved on the earlier act by including all legal inhabitants who were living in Britain at the time.
After the 2nd world debate on the rights to health care intensified and this was as a result to the health care reforms that had the main aim of making healthcare available to everyone. Article 25 which was signed by various countries was the main driving force in attaining health care to all. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which emphasized on the need for every human to enjoy rights to health care was the back borne of creating health care policies for most of the countries that signed the agreement. The US however did not sign it and hence it is not bound by the contents in the article.
The running and management of healthcare services in many countries will however mostly depend on the financial ability of the country and the policies that have been drafted to ensure its success. In most of the developed countries the government will mostly have the upper hand in the implementation and running of the system. These countries health care system will mostly be characterized by the residency factor instead of insurance payment to enjoy health care benefits. This means that one only has to be a citizen of the country so as to access health care benefits (Lighter, 542).
Other countries however will require one to pay a statutory amount of insurance to access health care. These types of healthcare will be characterized by deriving the funds to run the system mainly from a kind of hybrid system. The system may involve deriving funds from taxes and the premiums which may arise from insurance. This type of insurance will involve great reliance on the private sector who gets involved in providing health care services. The private sector is however heavily regulated by the government to prevent exploitation of the public. Switzerland and Netherlands are some of the countries that will operate their health care through privately owned insurers.
Health care in most of the countries can be viewed as a broad cover of numerous concepts and policies but the idea behind it is almost the same. Though the policies in implementing health care in different countries may be somehow different it should not escape our attention what unites all these different approaches towards health care. The uniting factor in providing health care in these countries is the commitment and involvement of government to ensure that health care is reachable to every citizens of the country.
Most of the countries will implement health care policies entirely from taxes derived from the public. It is however important to note that the various governments of these countries will offer legislate, regulate and implement policies that are designed to ensure that its citizens have the fundamental rights to health care. The access to health care will however not be the sole duty of the government alone. In most cases the patients will have to meet part of the costs incurred. This may be so incase the governments have formulated plans to ensure the compulsory payments of insurance. This may be a great relief to patients who bare just a small percentage of the overall cost.
Studies have been carried out to compare the various health care systems of ten developed countries with the US. The study’s main aim was to offer comparison to both the cost and effectiveness of the systems. The WHO which is the universal health organization has also carried out similar studies but in its studies it involved 16 countries. Most of the results found out that government involvement was the key to the success of the health care systems. The study also showed that most of the countries preferred a hybrid mix of both public and private systems so as to effectively attain the goals of health care.
It has been regarded a big shame that the US is the only first world country that does not have a kind of universal health care for its citizens. In 1986 the law was changed to ensure that emergency patients are provided with some kind of stabilization treatment without considering their ability to pay for the services. Childbirth was also included in this bracket. This according to some critical thinkers has been one of the main undoing in the government’s failure to deliver a comprehensive health care policy. This so called safety net is also prone to abuse since patients may find it necessary to use it for primary health care.
However it is great reprieve to learn that some states in the last few years have attempted to incorporate health care in their jurisdictions. The state of Massachusetts is one of almost successful stories in the US. The states residents are required to at least have a health insurance policy. Other states have also considered implementing health care policies.
There however seems to be a light of hope in the end of the tunnel. The Obama administration has pledged commitment to work with the congress to ensure that the country receives a comprehensive health care plan. This plan has been hatched with regard to the rising costs of health care which make it almost unaffordable for the majority of Americans. The president has offered great hopes in the attaining of health care and it only remains to be seen whether this plan will succeed (Obama, 45).
Some of the underlying factors that may derail the process include the cost of the system, how the cost will be met, the quality of the service and many other underlying queries. The Obama plan plans to meet its costs by imposing relatively high taxes from the rich while at the same time lowering premiums for those who are less rich. The plan also seems to suggest the fact that insurance companies may be required to hold the highest of standards. This may be viewed as a threat to those companies which exist but do not meet the required standards that the plan may be laying down.
Most of the residents in America will get their insurance from the employer while a relatively large percentage will get it from private companies. An average family will pay about 7000 dollars to cover for a whole year.