Live Long and Pay for it: What Can we Do?

Americans over age 65 are projected to increase from 13 percent in 2010 to more than 20 percent in 2050. Americans over age 85 will increase from 1.8 percent in 2010 to 4.3 percent in 2050, and these are the Americans that are most likely to need long-term care. With the cost of long-term medical care at the end of life averaging at about $78,000 a year, how can Americans revise our system to better suite the aging population of America?

Galston’s article talks about multiple solutions to this aging problem. He defines the German solution to their aging population. Germany instituted a mandatory long-term care system in 1995. This system creates a tax that is equally split between workers and employers which funds a mandatory care system. Germans are required to either participate in this federal elderly care or opt out and pay for private care. This type of system is similar to universal healthcare but applies directly to the elderly. Since we are facing an aging population, would implicating a similar system to the German system be beneficial to our country? Would it be possible to establish a federal health care system to provide across the board care to the elderly population even though we already have medicare?

Debating ACA, Republicans versus Democrats

Since the creation of the Affordable Care Act, republicans have been opposed to the ‘socialist’ health care law. Since this law was enacted in 2010, both republicans and democrats have discussed the outcomes of the law. It’s interesting to compare and contrast these opposing view points because we are at a point in time when our government is soon to be subject to change (upcoming presidential election).

This article brings up many stats that highlight the outcomes of the Affordable Care Act. For example, private insurance provider UnitedHealth Group reported that it was losing money in the insurance exchanges, and it saw no expected improvements in 2016 and might pull out in 2017. Similar concerns have also led to the collapse 12 of the 23 non-profit private insurance companies established by ACA through federal loans. Continue reading “Debating ACA, Republicans versus Democrats”

Medical Professionals and Their Roles as Advocates for Their Patients’ Overall Health

In the New York Times article, “Pediatricians Are Asked to Join Fight Against Childhood Hunger,” Catherine Saint Louis commends the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for its new policy that addresses the issue of food insecurity as a major contextual factor that influences U.S population health. She draws attention to how food insecurity has been found to cause many behavioral problems and hospitalizations for developing children. She also states that the lack of proper nutrition for these children contributes to the rising costs of health care. Saint Louis argues that the negative health outcomes in children from food insecurity amongst families is due impart to the medical practice of pediatricians. Saint Louis draws on claims from Dr. Chilton of Children’s HealthWatch that pediatricians do not adequately research childhood hunger; it has also been difficult to get the physician community to focus on the issue of food insecurity and the negative health effects it causes for their patients. The academy now urges pediatricians to screen their patients for food insecurity using a screening method that inquires if in the past year, money for a lasting food supply was a concern the parent(s) had encountered. If it is incorporated into standard routine of the doctor check-up process, this proposed screening method is helpful in that it removes the communication barrier experienced by parents that may be embarrassed to admit food insecurity and to seek help from a medical professional.

Continue reading “Medical Professionals and Their Roles as Advocates for Their Patients’ Overall Health”

Affordable Care Act and Low Socio-Economic Status

On Thursday the Obama administration stated that it would wage a national advertising campaign to help people with low incomes get the affordable insurance that they were promised via the Affordable Care Act. People from a low socio-economic status claim that even under the Affordable Care Act, health care is still not affordable for low-income workers.

The goal of this campaign is to advertise a three-month open enrollment period, which will allow people to compare and select health plans. The enrollment period starts this Sunday. Another goal of the campaign is to spread awareness Continue reading “Affordable Care Act and Low Socio-Economic Status”

Role of Medical Schools

By law, all physicians must be certified from an approved medical school, whether it be allopathic, osteopathic, or naturopathic. Each year, thousands upon thousands physicians obtain their licenses as they finish their final years of medical school and enter their residency. As these doctors gain notable experience, they become aware of the flaws and internal complications of the American healthcare system. For one, many doctors are able to see the enormous differences in income among their patients. Yet many do not advocate or publicize these economic differences that are crucial factors in a failing health care system. What can doctors and medical schools do to bring attention to these matters? What other issues should they address with their expertise and media power?

The Health Belief Model

In chapter two of The Sociology of Health, Illness & Health Care, Weitz outlines the Health Belief Model. This model explains the factors that make people more likely to adopt healthy behaviors, especially in regards to health problems that can be prevented through those healthy behaviors. These factors are as follows: belief that one is susceptible to a particular health problem, belief that the problem is serious, belief that adopting preventative measures will reduce risk, and belief that no significant barriers make it difficult to adopt those measures. This model emphasizes agency (individual free will to make choices) over structure (social forces that limit choices), and Weitz explains that this means that researchers and policymakers who follow this model are more likely to “promote policies such as educating consumers about the dangers of smoking than policies such as banning smoking in public places.”

My question is as follows: are there any preventable health problems that are better prevented through structural changes than through policies that focus on agency? For example, in preventing vaccinatable diseases, would it be more effective to make vaccines mandatory, or to follow the Health Belief Model and provide better and more accessible education regarding vaccine risks and benefits?

Should Race be an Opinion?

In the Williams article, it was stated “Sociologists have also emphasized that science is not value-free and that preconceived opinions, political agendas, and cultural norms, consciously or unconsciously, can shape scientific research by determining which research questions are asked and which projects are funded”. However, I do not believe that race should be an opinion but a fact. Being Caribbean American, there are times where I don’t know whether to put other or “African American” as my racial identification.

Is it possible for us to go about as a society correctly classifying individuals without using preconceived judgement and assumption?

Factors Influencing Health Outcomes

In the article “Understanding Racial-ethnic Disparities in Health: Sociological Contributions,” Williams and Sternthal explain in detail the many factors that influence health outcomes, such as race and racial discrimination, gender, socioeconomic status, social structure, and migration history. Although all these factors are important, I felt like the article was just listing out all the problems that influence health outcomes and wanted to prove that these problems do in fact exist. However, we already know that these factors influence health, so how should sociologists and medical professionals take what they already know and create practical solutions for our communities today? At the end of the article, they say that policy needs to be changed and that there needs to be more awareness in the public. Are there any other effective solutions that can be created and implemented today? (Maybe create/influence government policies that assist underserved communities, provide health benefits for vulnerable groups, make farmer’s markets and groceries stores more readily available in poorer communities, etc?)