Sunday, September 20, 2009

Health Care - Who's Responsibility, Corporate or Government?

Given a choice not many people who fend for themselves and have a meagre income, especially when they are no longer efficient and competent as is the case of the old and sick, would like to pay their premium for health care insurance.

Since 2001, premiums for family coverage have increased 78%, while wages have risen 19% and inflation has risen 17%, according to a 2007 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In desperation a good lot of people in the US purchase wide range of health insurance products, that literally leaves them with little money to spend on food, transport, housing and good education for self and children.

In fact Medical debt is the principal cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States.
This is bad since it affects the economy badly.

Around 84.7% of citizens have some form of health insurance; either through their employer or the employer of their spouse or parent (59.3%), purchased individually (8.9%), or provided by government programs (27.8%; there is some overlap in these figures).

No wonder
health care is very thorny, an exceedingly expensive priority for companies both small and large that has ostensibly very few visible, tangible benefits.

Insurance for dental and vision care (except for visits to ophthalmologists, which are covered by regular health insurance) is usually sold separately.

In the United States, hospital and doctor expenses are covered by payments received from patients and insurance plans.

Visits to facilities outside the insurance program's "network" are usually either not covered or the patient must bear more of the cost (usually waived for emergencies).

According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the United States is the "only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not ensure that all citizens have coverage" (i.e. some kind of insurance).

What is perhaps shocking that in a 2009 Harvard study published in the American Journal of Public Health it has been revealed that there has been on an average 44,800 excess deaths annually in the United States due to Americans lacking health insurance.

Its estimated that in USA as much as 15.3% of the Gross Domestic Product or GDP is spent on health care alone. This is next to East
Timor (Timor-Leste). It is expected that the upward trend would continue to surge in the USA which is likely to touch 19.5% of GDP by 2017.

As per a report prepared by WHO (World Health Organization) in 2000, of all countries totalling 191 member nations of the United Nations Organisation, USA tops the list for having the costliest health care system in the world.

Although the United States is a leader in medical innovation, having spent three times than Europe on a per
capita basis on biomedical research most of which funded by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2004, its performance in health care system is shockingly dismal.

The overall performance of health care in USA
vis a vis other countries stands at 37th and 72 by overall level of health respectively.

Its obvious those who have proper employment in good corporate
organisations and have sufficient disposal income are in a better position to take care of them.

In fact salary and health insurance are most important if corporates wishes to attract the best talent and qualifications in the industry and retain them for long.

Yet the corporate world has scrupulously avoided being dragged into the debate on providing health care to the citizens most of whom are their employees.

But corporates the world over especially large multinationals a majority of which have their head quarters in the
USA must reach out to share the health care burden as part of a social responsibility.

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