Future of Healthcare Operations Under the Current Economic Conditions and Potential Healthcare Reform Term Paper

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The current state of healthcare is facing a number of different challenges, with the increasing amounts of uninsured and rising costs posing as the greatest threat to the system. This is a drastic change from the predictions made during the 1980's that health care costs would remain stable. As it was largely expected that a physician surplus; would allow prices to remain stable well into the future. (Blendon, 2003) However, since that time the number of consumers requiring medical services has only continued to increase. As the number of baby boomers becoming older are putting the most pressure on the system. A good example of this can be seen by looking no further than the total number of Americans who have no health insurance, which is 47 million. This number is expected to increase by at least 25 million, as more Americans loose their health insurance coverage. (Lylte, 2009) This is despite the fact that the health insurance industry reported a profit of $12.2 billion in 2009, up from $4.4 billion that was reported in 2008. (MacDonald, 2010) as a result, the American health care system is facing the precarious challenge of dealing with increasing amounts of uninsured and selective insurance companies. This is troubling because the insurance industry is exempt from anti-trust regulation and can easily collude with other companies, when determining the premiums that will be paid. Over the course of time, this has meant that consumers are forced to pay more for various health care services. In the case of Medicare and Medicaid, they are facing similar kinds of challenges as they are forced to decrease the total amounts of reimbursements paid to health care providers. These changes are reflecting a model that is out of date and in desperate need of reform. As emotions, become more heated as to how to effectively address the current and possible reforms of the system. It is through examining this aspect of situation facing Medicare and Medicaid; that will provide the greatest insights as to how to both programs can be reformed to address the changes that are occurring

Term Paper on Future of Healthcare Operations Under the Current Economic Conditions and Potential Healthcare Reform Assignment

To fully understand the true scope of the problem that is encompassing both Medicare and Medicaid; requires that you use various corporate finance principals. This is because the American health care system is largely dominated by the private sector. In the case of Medicare and Medicaid, certain components are used in conjunction with private services. When you are using the different principals of corporate finance you are examining the supply and demand problems in the industry. This is the first step to determine how to fix both programs, so that they can continue to remain a viable entity into the future.

Medicare Issues

The primary goal for any kind of organization is to reduce the overall amounts of risk as much as possible, while providing value. Because Medicare is a government sponsored program, means that any kind of proposed changes often face heated debate. This has allowed the program to use a business model based on health care services delivered during the 1980's. As a result, the overall services provided continue to face the issues of declining reimbursements and rising costs. A good example of this can be seen with Medicare Part D, which is the prescription drug program offered to senior citizens over the last few years. The idea was that as prescription drug prices were rising meant that many seniors were faced with increasing financial challenges. To help offset these different costs, Part D was created. (Anderson, 2009) Under the program, the government would increase spending on prescription drugs, while reducing reimbursements to hospitals and physicians. However, according to the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, since the program was enacted in 2003, the costs associated with paying for prescription drugs have soared. While, the total number of reimbursements to health care facilities have increased as well. (Anderson, 2009) This is troubling, because the program was intended to reduce the effects of: the costs of prescriptions drugs and total reimbursements. What this shows is that the government is not effectively addressing the forces of supply and demand, to reduce the overall amount of costs.

This has caused a ripple effect to occur in the system where many other Medicare reimbursement programs are facing sharp reductions to include: a $110 billion reduction in reimbursements to health care providers, $22 billion in imaging services and a $75 billion reduction for prescription drugs. ("President Cuts Medicare, Medicaid to Help Reform Costs," 2009) the reason why this is occurring is: the Medicare entitlement program has created large inefficiencies and cost overruns due to the business model that they are using. To prevent the costs from spiraling out of control the government is reducing the total reimbursements to health care providers, by $313 billion over 10 years. ("President Cuts Medicare, Medicaid to Help Reform Costs," 2009) Commenting about the proposed changes the White House said, "Any honest accounting must prepare for the fact that health care reform will require additional costs in the short-term in order to reduce spending in the long-term. This will rein in unnecessary spending and increase efficiency and the quality of care. These savings will come from common sense changes." ("President Cuts Medicare, Medicaid to Help Reform Costs," 2009)

While the reduction in reimbursement programs is a good first step, the situation can create a problem of reducing the overall amounts of care provided at various health care facilities. Based upon the macro economic principal of corporate value all entities will seek to increase profits, while reducing the risks (losses) as much as possible. (Lumby, 2003) Where, those patients who are suffering from more severe health problems are more expensive to treat; due to the fact that they were not able to have their conditions treated early. Then, when you reduce the amounts for reimbursement the different services, means that many consumers will postpone health related issues for financial reasons. At which point, the condition could become more severe and expensive. In most cases, preventive medicine could significantly reduce the overall amount of costs for treating patients. This is a sign, that unless the federal government is serious about health care reform by changing the overall model. A major crisis will face Medicare in the next few years, as the reductions in costs will lead to less health care services. This is because health care providers will require the consumer to make up the difference that they are not receiving from reimbursements; which means that Medicare recipients will face a more troubling situation.

Medicare Reform

Despite the challenges there is a way that the overall system used by Medicare can be reformed. The military health care system provides an excellent example as to how Medicare can focus on reducing the overall amounts of reimbursements. Under the system used by the military, they engage in preventive medicine. This requires that all personnel have physicals conducted on regular intervals. The reason why this matters is: when you can identify health problems early; the chances decrease that the condition will lead to other major health problems down the road. Over the short-term, the use of various medical services increases because of the regular physicals. However, the long-term costs are dramatically lower by preventing medical conditions from occurring before they become serious. This is when the overall cost of care increase dramatically, as more specialized services are required to treat Medicare patients. (Ringel, 2006)

Another way that the military health care system can provide a blue print for reforming the Medicare is by providing consumers with a choice. Under the military health system, personnel and their families are covered. However, they have the option of using private insurance to compliment their health care requirements. This is important because the coverage provided by the military allows families to shop for the lowest rate. If their needs change they can adapt this coverage to reflect what is occurring. This allows families to find the lowest rates of coverage, without sacrificing the quality of care. (Ringel, 2006)

Together both these elements could be used to help reform Medicare by providing a way of covering those who have no insurance at all. This could then be augmented, with an existing private insurance system that will provide total comprehensive amounts of coverage. To encourage preventive medicine; those doctors who help improve the health of their patients could receive higher reimbursements. This could serve as motivation to encourage doctors to reduce the long-term costs. Under this system, you are using the profit motive of financial reimbursement to encourage health care professionals to promote preventive medicine. In the short-term this will increase costs, however in the long-term this will cause the total amounts being spent on reimbursements to decline. (Ringel, 2006)

Medicaid Issues

Medicaid is facing similar challenges to Medicare, as the overall costs are rising sharply. However, the biggest issue that is contributing to this program can be seen in the bureaucracy itself.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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