Cost or Quality? Which is the Right Focus for Health Policy?

Healthcare policies are the pillars of every medical system. The guidelines govern various actions and decisions with the primary aim of achieving better health outcomes. United States is among the few developed countries that have several healthcare policies, which include HCQIA, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program. Although some of these regulations have been in place for an extended period, progressive reforms are being made to improve their effectiveness in the dynamic world. These changes have contributed to several healthcare debates in the country. Such discussions include healthcare plans by the federal government to enhance the Affordable Care Act and proposals for state-controlled healthcare. A close analysis of these and other debates in the country reveals that the current health policies are mainly focused on cost rather than quality in the healthcare industry.

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One of the latest health policy discussion in the United States is whether the Affordable Care Act should be invalidated. According to the federal government, a more effective healthcare plan will be developed to replace the former statute. The proposed project is expected to facilitate lower premiums and cost deductibles among healthcare consumers. Based on ongoing discussions and remarks made by the United States president, it is evident that the government is more inclined to meet one of the essential elements of the healthcare system, cost. While the state focuses on reducing insurance premiums and other medical expenses, it has failed to evaluate the impact of the proposed plan on quality of care and patient outcomes.

Cost-related policy debates are also prevalent in the national discussion over government-controlled healthcare. For some time now, the United States’ Congress faces the challenge of selecting a policy that either supports a single-payer system or modest reforms in private insurance. Supporters of “medical for all” argue that the system will facilitate standardized rates of payment for caregivers. In addition, the policy will enhance the efficient use of healthcare funds, since medical costs will be disbursed from a single government agency. On the other hand, critics of the system are concerned about the uncomfortable tradeoffs that may arise from the institution of reforms. For instance, federal taxation is anticipated to rise to fund healthcare expenditures and uncertainties of consistency in high pays among physicians. From the analysis, the public and people in authority are more focused on healthcare financing rather than the impact that the changes may have on the quality of care.

Evidence indicates that current health debates are more focused on cost rather than the quality of care. The approach may be one of the reasons why patients, providers, purchasers, and payers face uncomfortable tradeoffs under the proposed regulations. While it may be challenging to satisfy all the essential elements of the healthcare system, policymakers should engage in debates that meet at least two of the components. For instance, the ongoing discussion on the development of a new health plan and invalidation of the Affordable Care Act should be multi-sided. One of the approaches in which stakeholders can achieve this initiative is by asking health-related questions; including, the value that people can derive from the proposed policy. Another question would be if the regulation would positively affect quality, cost, and access to healthcare, as well as whether the costs associated with implementing the strategy would translate to better health outcomes.

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