Disparity can be defined as the difference inequality among diverse groups, clusters, or factions. Disparity includes failure of groups to acquire enough resources. Health care disparities can therefore be defined as differences in accessibility and affordability of health care services among persons in United States. Health care disparities are often traceable based on socioeconomic and environmental differences amongst members of a population. Being healthy does not necessarily mean absence of diseases or disabilities. However, it can translate to persons being wholesomely healthy on mental, physical, and psychological aspects. Other major factors with direct impacts on health include accessibility to safe, clean, and healthy water and foodstuffs. More importantly, people ought to reside in housing facilities that guarantee safety. The American Public Health Association also asserts that, education, transport, health care insurance, and clean air attribute to health care disparities (APHA, 2013, p. 2).
Recently, lifestyle diseases have been increasing at an alarming rate. High number of lifestyle diseases can be witnessed among persons unable to adopt healthy living practices such as regular exercise to achieve physical fitness. Physical, mental, and psychological fitness is paramount in promoting universal health. The absence or presence of inadequate resources in promoting healthcare can lead to poor health. Health care ethics aim to advocate that, health is a basic human right. Thus, it should be offered universally and equally among living beings. Discrimination and prejudice based on race, sex, age, or religion among other factors should therefore be avoided. It should neither hinder nor interfere in either provision or promotion of individual rights to access high quality healthcare services. This dissertation therefore seeks to explore trending causes and associated factors with regard to health care disparities in United States (APHA 5).
According to the World Health Organization, health disparities can be caused by various factors. They can arise from conditions through which people are born and raised in. More so, living and working conditions among persons differing in age can attribute to health care disparities. Thus, social, economic, and environmental factors are highly responsible for the health inequities in United States as well as other global nations (WHO 1).
The CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report was released in 2013. It asserted that, at least forty percent of Hispanic adults and about twenty five percent of African American adults are not medically insured. More so, the number of persons aged between eighteen and thirty four years without insurance medical covers were twice the number of people aged above sixty five years. The main contributor to health disparity in United States can be termed as unemployment. It is a significant contributor to health disparities based on social determinants. For example, social determinants of health are often recorded at higher rates among Hispanics, Native and African Americans compared to whites (CDCP, 2014, p. 7).
Unemployment rates across global nations are often associated with high rates of school dropouts. Formative years among people from the same population can record differing or unequal rates of unemployment. As a result, high numbers of persons living below the federal poverty level from the same population attribute to health care disparities. This is because they cannot afford basic resources including food, water, and shelter. Consequently, the rate of suffering from health care scares associated with environmental and societal problems increases. For example, persons residing in highly populated regions are more likely to suffer from water and air borne diseases due to pollution. It is therefore evident that, environmental factors attribute to the health care disparity issue (CDCP, 2014, p. 7).
A research conducted by Centre for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that, Hispanics and other Non-English speakers are mainly found living near major highways. The rest are employed among highly risky working environments due to increased pollution rates coupled with lack of safety measures. These findings differed in comparison to the white community. Thus, uneducated, unemployed, and persons working in unhealthy working environments exposed to various forms of pollution are more likely to suffer from poor health care qualities. This has a detrimental effect on their overall health and lifespan as higher number of injuries and deaths are often recorded among the same population (CDCP, 2014, p. 11).
Socioeconomic factors greatly impact the life of an individual. This translates to rich persons enjoying the benefits of health care while the poor suffer due to inability in accessing sources of health care. The poor are unable to afford or access medical services as they also struggle to survive based on availability basic needs. Thus, the contour runs from the top of the chain to the bottom in affording, accessing, and acquiring necessities of life. To address these avoidable differences affecting major populations in United States, it is vital to discuss trending causes of health care disparities. The trends will mainly focus on reasons for populations across United States preferring to home based health care (CDCP, 2014, p. 12).
Home-Based Health Care Trend
According to Humphrey (1996), home-based care involves a health service provider visiting patients’ residences to attend to their medical needs at the comfort of their home. Home-based care has become very popular as it is convenient and satisfactory. Thus, patients are able to receive standardized medical services at reduced costs. Research conducted by medical experts in United States indicate that, at least an eighty percent decrease in medical costs in relation to hospital bills can be attributed to home-based care. This is because the cost of hosting the patient in providing home-based care is eliminated. For example, the costs associated in ensuring elderly persons residing in a nursing home are often high. This is because maintenance, health care, and living costs are accounted in ensuring elderly nursing homes or assisted living facilities and programs provide quality services. Home-based care also guarantees patients’ personal freedoms as they are treated at the comfort of their homes. Thus, the patient can maintain personal lifestyles while carrying on with various activities attributing and/or supporting daily living expenses. Patients can also be assisted by relatives and health care provider to improve their living conditions, lifestyles, and health care conditions (DHHS, 2014, p. 3).
Most patients adopting home-based care mainly suffer from chronic illness or geriatrics. Thus, their nutrition levels, forms of mental and physical exercises, rest and medical treatment practices are paramount in healing affected persons. Patients receiving home-based care demonstrate adherence to medication, food and other procedures. This is in comparison to patients receiving health care services in a hospital setting. Patients receiving home-based care therefore record quicker and better recoveries. Companionship is crucial towards achievement of physical and mental health. It provides stability to patients promoting quicker recovery. However, isolation and reclusion spurs loneliness leading to boredom. In worst cases, isolation and reclusion can lead to suicide. Due to home-based care, family, friends, and relatives are not burdened in taking care of the patient. This provides them with more time to go about their daily activities including pursing professional and educational endeavors (Humphrey, 1996, p. 17).
Accountable Care Organizations (ACO)
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) commonly known as Obama care supported the creation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). Accountable Care Organizations refer to a set of hospitals, doctors, physicians and other health care providers with jointly harmonized free will to provide and supply high quality medical care services. They mainly offer their services to patients suffering from long term diseases such as chronically ill populations. Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) is entitled to receive monetary incentives from the federal government. The monetary incentives are received inform of shared savings gained from the general reductions in health care costs. The general reductions are expected to be retrieved through the implementation of the Act. Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) is utilized by the government to organize and improve health care services in United States (DHHS, 2014, p. 1).
United States government believes that, Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) can progress health care qualities. More so, they can scale down the growth of health care expenditure in the country. In order for a health care trend to be declared an Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), the law asserts it ought to have the capacity needed to manage diverse health care needs. At least five thousand Medicare beneficiaries for at least three year period should therefore benefit from Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) combines health care teams. This improves efficiencies through application of technologies and knowledge to suit, meet and fulfill patients’ needs. Thus, Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) can help and ensure United States health care systems realize their full potential (DHHS, 2014, p. 3).
As an association of hospitals, providers and insurers in medical care provision Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) ensures accountability is achieved. This is in attempts to improve health care qualities with relation to provision of patient care. Through accountability, money is utilized to ensure health care needs among populations are met and fulfilled satisfactorily. Thus, Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) is responsible in overseeing a pay-for-performance model measuring cost control and patient care on a standard criterion. As a result, health care providers receive shared savings from the federal government in accordance to the criteria. Failure to meet the standard criteria for quality of health care provided to patient and cost control leads to Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) receiving low payments from Medicare (DHHS, 2014, p. 4).
Ultimately, the Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) model influence how patients ought to be treated throughout the care process. Appointments and tests are administered and completed under a similar health care umbrella. They are provided by specific members of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). In traditional health care systems, patients seeking additional care outside the Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) incur more medical cost more. Neighboring health care providers and hospitals willingly volunteer to coordinate their efforts to avail joint medical care to patients. Doctors, nurses and other health care providers communicate with each other as they partner with patients in making health care decisions (DHHS, 2014, p. 4).
Lawmakers and the government are in search of ways to reduce the public deficit with Medicare being regarded as a prime target. With baby boomers heading towards retirement age, the costs of programs designed for the elderly and disabled in the country is expected to rise rapidly. Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) can therefore be identified as a measure to curb the rapid increase in health care costs and disparities. Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) ensures health care providers are jointly responsible for the well being of their patients. They give patients more incentives to assist them in saving. They also apply various measures to decrease health care disparities (Beth, Fred and Gerald, 2008, p. 11).
Applicable Measures to Decrease Health Care Disparities
Foremost, health records ought to be maintained electronically. As a result, patients can spend limited time filling out medical history forms. Consequently, occurrences through which patients undergo repeated medical tests can be reduced or prevented. As a result, doctors’ and hospitals can keep listening and honoring patients’ choices at reduced health care costs. This can increase the number of persons from various economic and social clusters to afford and access health care. More so, health care disparities can reduce in the country improving and increasing health care qualities among the populace (Beth, Fred and Gerald, 2008, p. 14).
Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) combines different elements of care to improve health care services and qualities. Thus, primary care, hospitals, home health care, and specialists among others ought to work well together. As a result, patients seeking and receiving each part of their health care separately can access medical services equally. This is can narrow the gap associated with socioeconomic differences. As a result, the entire health care products can be ascertained as standardized. Provision of health care services should therefore be based on creation works improving practices at reduced costs while giving patients’ confidence to seek, access, receive, and pay for them. Currently, the government estimates Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) can save Medicare up to nine hundred and sixty million dollars in a period of three years. This can account for at least one percent of expenditure on Medicare for an equal duration. As a result, a larger group of persons can afford and access health care reducing health care disparities (Beth, Fred and Gerald, 2008, p. 17).
Running antitrust and anti-fraud laws to hinder market powers pushing up prices to trigger competition can reduce healthcare disparities. Coupled with reformed payment and delivery systems, challenges facing the U.S. health care system can be addressed. Challenges such as inadequate capacity to bring safe, dependable, and effective health care; poorly organized patient care and increasing costs of health care can be prevented. Consequently, clear guidelines on overall goals and targets of health care can be formulated. As a result, health care transparency, accountability, qualities, and standards can improve. More so, streamlining and strengthening health care information and technology infrastructures can enhance evidenced-based health care. This can encourage patients to seek and receive better to health care services across incorporated systems of care through offered financial incentives. Ultimately, populations’ health care services can improve.
American Public Health Association. (APHA). (2013). Abstracts, Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association and Related Organizations. Washington, D.C: The Association. Print
Beth, M., Fred, M., & Gerald, N. (2008). Ready to Go: The History and Contributions of U.S. Public Health Advisors. Research Triangle Park, American Social Health Association. Print.
Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (CDCP). (2014). Budget Request Summary: Fiscal Year 2015. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Report. Print.
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). (2014). Accountable Care Organizations: What Providers Need to Know. Medicare Learning Network. Print.
Humphrey, C. (1996). Orientation to Home Care Nursing. Gaithersburg: Aspen Publishers, Inc. Print.