A Look at Healthcare Costs: Limiting Factors for Americans - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1547 Words
Date:  2023-01-24


It is the dream of every American to live a long, happy life and have the best medical care when in need. However, this is not always the case due to several factors. The cost of healthcare, to begin with, has been one limiting factor when it comes to healthcare, and this has limited the access of many American to the essential medical and healthcare services they might need. 1). Among these expenditures include spending on pharmaceutical drugs, on physician and other medical personnel, as well as on medical research. Disparities and inequalities in the healthcare system have similarly proved a barrier to the attainment of quality care, and the major forms of discrimination evident within the healthcare systems have been prejudice against race as well as socioeconomic status of the patients. These forms of disparities are well explained using the conflict theory approach, which predicts the existence of social stratification as a result of the unequal distribution of the limited resources at the disposal of human beings. Healthy people make up a healthy nation. Therefore, the involvement of the government in the provision of healthcare is considered crucial when it comes to the standardization of the costs of healthcare, as well as the elimination of disparities within different contexts.

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The Conflict Theory and Its Relevance to Healthcare

The conflict theory was a theory formulated by Karl Marx, as he attempted to explain the causes of disparities and inequalities within the society. According to this theory, Marx classified the society as being composed of two major groups, the bourgeoisie, who owned and controlled the production processes, and the proletariats, who were primarily employees and hence worked for the former group. This was a form of economy that prevailed in capitalism. Capitalism was mainly after making profits. Because of the bourgeoisie needed to maximize their profits, they minimized wages for the proletariats, and spend little to nothing on making their working conditions better (Barkan, 31). Marx was hence after communism, a market approach that placed the production processes to the government, and thus making every individual earn depending on the work they executed. The conflict theory has hence been relevant in illustrating the social disparities that exist within the healthcare setting. However, these disparities have evolved to include the race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and social classes. These are the disparities that have been experienced in the healthcare system. The conflict theory similarly pointed out at the tendency of individuals within the society to always look after their self-interest. Using this tenet, the physicians have often been considered in a similar angle, as people too obsessed with the economic gains they get from healthcare resulting in them categorizing social problems as medical ones.

Discrimination in Healthcare and Their Implications

The healthcare settings experience different forms of discrimination against specific groups of people. Discrimination in such settings takes the shape of gender, ethnicity, social class and race, among others. However, racial discrimination and social class are the major causes of discrimination. Racial prejudice takes place when a patient is unfairly treated due to their race. Racism has dominated many aspects of American social life. However, when it comes to healthcare, it is not only perceived as prejudice but also a health risk. This is because racial discrimination is often associated with detrimental health outcomes such as cardiovascular diseases, smoking, and poor consultations from patients. Racial prejudice also leads to a tendency of the patient to refrain from preventing services, poor adherence and compliance to medical directives, strained patient-physician relationship and communication as well as the forgoing of tests and treatment (Stepanikova and Gabriela 87). The level of education has also been a factor in discrimination, but it is not as relevant when it comes to healthcare.

Healthcare, as earlier stated, is an expensive venture, and this often leaves most people who need these services in agony. This limitation has hence resulted in the discrimination of patients with low socioeconomic status, and this has resulted in health-related factors such as the patient insurance status as well as barriers in cost-associated access to healthcare. Socioeconomic status has been closely linked with the race of individuals. For instance, the African Americans were viewed to be the most racially discriminated group (12.3%), and at the same time, those who earned more than $70,000 were less likely to be racially discriminated as compared to those who earned less (Stepanikova and Gabriela 91). Therefore, due to these limitations, the involvement of government in healthcare is critical.

Government Involvement in Healthcare

Going by Marx's premise on communism, the one way that disparities can be eliminated in any society is through the involvement of the government as the central organization and the one arm that control and disseminate all services. There are many ways the government could get involved in healthcare, and these are;

Healthcare Purchasing

The one way that the government can be involved in healthcare is through the purchasing of healthcare. This primarily means that the government is directly involved in the purchase of insurance and benefits plans. The United States government does this through Medicaid and social security. Over forty million Americans who are disabled or elderly are hence covered with Medicaid, while the federal employee health benefits covers 0.5 million employees. The low-income earners are similarly covered by Medicaid through matched payments while around 4.6 children are enrolled and hence covered under the state child health insurance (Tang, Eisenberg and Meyer 49). Military personnel get 40% of the care through the Tricare program, and this covers 8.5 million military veterans and retirees.

Universal Healthcare

At the start of the millennium, more than 38million Americans who were below 65 years were uninsured (Akhter 99). This was compounded by the socioeconomic status and race of the citizens, as of the numbers, two-thirds came from low-income families. The racial minorities were also more affected, more the Hispanics. This trend limited the access to medical care for many, and hence the American Public Health Association (APHA) suggested universal care that would cater to every American of all walks of life. Years later, the Obama administrations ensure of this through the affordable care act. This act was in every way similar to Marx's definition of a perfect society since the upper, and middle-class citizens are taxed more to contribute towards the insurance of the low-income American citizens.

Provision of Healthcare

The government appreciates that there are certain groups of people who are marginalized in society. It is for this reason that the United States government is directly involved in the provision of healthcare to such individuals. Among the various groups catered for under, this is the active military people as well as their beneficiaries, veterans from different wars, the Alaskan natives, as well as those in prison. The major services that provide these services include the Indian health service, the veteran health administration, and the DoD (Tang, Eisenberg and Meyer 50). They often evaluate and assess their services to ensure they provide quality and affordable healthcare for those who cannot be catered for in the mainstream healthcare market.

Medical Research and Technology

Among the various crucial fields in medicine include research. The 21st century has seen a trend where many healthcare facilities have move towards evidence-based practice. Therefore, the government, through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) among other research services, have spearheaded medical research. Technology has been among the various factors that have increased medical expenditures and hence, prices. Through the NIH, the federal government has been actively involved in the inventions of new technologies, the benchmarking of other countries to discover the recent inventions as well as fund the purchase of technological devices needed in the healthcare facilities.


Healthcare is the backbone of many nations since the average functionalism of any state is dictated by the extent to which its people are or are not healthy. However, healthcare has been jeopardized more so due to the existence of disparities in the various sectors, and various forms. The conflicts theory is hence, relevant when it comes to the exposition of the societal stratifications in terms of race and socioeconomic status that have become barriers to accessible medical care. Therefore, the involvement of the government in healthcare, just as once suggested by Marx in terms of production processes is critical, as it guarantees fair and affordable healthcare to all. Among the ways that the government could be involved includes medical research, the provision of technology, universal insurance and the provision of healthcare to marginalized groups.

Works Cited

Akhter, M. N. APHA policies on universal health care: health for a few or health for all? American journal of public health volume 93 issue 1. 2003. Pp. 99-101. doi:10.2105/ajph.93.1.99

Barkan E. S. Sociology and sociological perspectives. 213. P.30. https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Sociology,%20Understanding%20and%20Changing%20the%20Social%20World.pdf

Scholar Harvard. The economics of healthcare. Pp. 1-14. https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/mankiw/files/economics_of_healthcare.pdf

Stepanikova, I., and Gabriela R O. Perceived Discrimination and Privilege in Health Care: The Role of Socioeconomic Status and Race. American journal of preventive medicine volume 52 issue 1. 2017. Pp. 86-94. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2016.09.024

Tang N, Eisenberg J. M. and Meyer G. S. The Roles of Government in Improving Health Care Quality and Safety. Joint Commission on Quality and Safety. Volume 30 Number 1 2004. Pp. 47-55. Doi.

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A Look at Healthcare Costs: Limiting Factors for Americans - Essay Sample. (2023, Jan 24). Retrieved from https://midtermguru.com/essays/a-look-at-healthcare-costs-limiting-factors-for-americans-essay-sample

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