There are many factors at play in the process of implementing changes in the healthcare system. What’s obvious are the complex and slow-changing policies but there are also environmental, demographic and technological factors to be considered. Human society changes constantly so it’s only natural that the healthcare system has to follow suit.
Here are several predictions regarding the changes in the healthcare system and its future.
Changes throughout history
When it comes to the healthcare reforms, they’re often proposed but are rarely fully accomplished. It can be seen in the example of the USA how slow the process is – the country first attempted it with the AALL, then in 1965 President Jonson authorised legislation that introduced Medicaid and Medicare into law as part of the Great Society Legislation and a variety of other legislations have been introduced since the 1990s, most recently being the widely known Obamacare. Since then, additional regulations and rules have been introduced but it’s still an ongoing process.
The complex nature of healthcare
Choosing the best healthcare plan demonstrates the complexity of health insurance plans not just in the US but all around the world. For instance, around 50% of Americans with private health insurance are covered with unique self-insured plans and the other half of the population uses the traditional plans such as HMO or PPO and they all dramatically vary. Co-payments, co-insurance, deductibles and max out-of-pocket expenses are just a few inconsistent variables. Another confusing element is that some insurance companies are non-profit while others are for-profit.
Importance of health insurance
The importance of proper health insurance becomes particularly evident in cases of a critical illness. Insurance of this type, such as the Singapore insurance, compensates its holder with a lump payment after being diagnosed with a specific illness that the patient can then use to cover medical and everyday expenses and support the family in the process. This allows the patient/policyholder to focus on the treatment and recovery without worrying about paying the bills.
Examples of critical illnesses typically include heart attack, stroke, certain types and stages of cancer and conditions such as MS. For each illness, there’s a specific criterion which defines when you automatically qualify for the payout so it’s crucial for the patient to read carefully all the terms and conditions. Other important elements are how the policy defines the illness if there’s a waiting period attached to the plan and what exactly is covered.
In the past, these protection policies were criticized for allowing too much wiggle-room and letting the insurers off the hook when it came to paying out claims. It’s not surprising that these policies are hard to sell so insurers have started to make changes and increase the number of illnesses they cover. The number used to be around 10 but it has now risen to around 50. Looking back, policies used to cover only advanced stages of cancer but that has changed now. Cancer still accounts for about 2/3 of claims, followed by stroke, heart attack and MS.
Impact of changes on healthcare
Cultural changes, healthcare costs and policy adjustments have led to a more patient-oriented and empowered shift over the last century. One of the biggest impacts is brought on by technological advancements and this is expected to continue with the development of new technologies such as 3D printing, GPS tracking and wearable biometric devices. Despite the restriction imposed by policies and procedures, cutting-edge technology will play an important part in the healthcare system of the future.
Speaking of healthcare facilities, the use of hospital services will increase significantly between 2017 and 2025 which is mostly due to expected growth in Medicare beneficiaries in the next ten years. Hospital care costs are also likely to rise from 0.9 to 2.4% by 2025 increasing the importance of educated healthcare professional and good business practices.
A change in healthcare providers
In addition to many technological and policy changes, healthcare providers are also changing. As they are a very important part of the healthcare system, any changes in their demographics, education or job satisfaction will certainly impact the care patients receive.
In future, healthcare providers are likely to focus more on expanding their knowledge of the business than before as it’s evident from the analysis by the Harvard Business School which shows a growing number of its physicians pursuing M.B.A, degrees in the last ten years. This may lead to more healthcare administrators and private practices. Another promising trend is a shift in the demographics which shows an increasing number of women in the medical profession, including gynaecology, obstetrics and paediatrics.
The healthcare industry is constantly changing in all of its fields, from policies to patients and everything in between. Changes in patient age and demographics, illness trends and technological advancements will continue to have an important impact on the future direction of healthcare.