The Positive and Negative Aspects of the US Health Care System
A number of sociological theories are applicable to the US health care system, most importantly structural functionalism, conflict and post-structuralism theories. …
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Here the patient is exempt from normal social responsibilities, is not held responsible for being sick, desires to get better and lastly, has an obligation to find proper help (Kaminskas and Darulis 111). Structural functionalism in essence depicts social order as healthcare is interpreted at the macro-level system and understood as so at the micro level (individual patient). In the USA, structural functionalism depicts a skewed system due to a number of factors; income disparities and lack of insurance to all would mean that individuals have to work while sick and cannot seek for proper assistance. Conflict theory entails the relationship between health and capitalist organizations.
According to the conflict theory, the society consists of various groups striving to advance their interests and gain advantage. Hence inequality characterizes social life, leading to conflicts which then inspire social change (Kaminskas and Darulis 111). Conflict theory perfectly describes the US healthcare system, with many interest groups such as insurance companies, patients, government/policy makers, medical practitioners and pharmaceutical companies among others striving to exert influence. The conflict and inequality arising has led to changes embodied through Obama’s signing of Patient protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) signed March 23, 2010 and Healthcare and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 on March 30, 2010 (Morgan 2011). Post-structuralism describes the dominant modern medical discourse that underpins health and illness as normality and deviance. Beneficiaries in this perspective are powerful, such as the medical profession. Post-structuralism describes a sociological perspective of health and illness defining individual roles and bio-politics (wider structures- power/control). In this perspective, the US healthcare system is far removed from the individual, who instead of being the main beneficiary is relegated to the background as bio-politics and economics take center-stage. Minority access to health care exudes disparity in all aspects. According to Wikibooks (2011), minority groups such as African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asian Americans suffer more from chronic illnesses, higher mortality rates and poor health outcomes in comparison to European Americans. For instance, the incidence of cancer remains ten times higher among African Americans compared to European Americans, which may bring forth sociological issues such as structural racism in the healthcare system. The interaction of children and the US healthcare system showcases the influence of economic disparities starkly. According to Pollitt (2011), poor children experience more health risks than non-poor children; 20% more risk from secondary smoking; 15% more risk from lead in blood; 8% more poor children lacking health insurance; and 7% more poor children lacking dental care. Among the senior citizens, the impacts of systemic bias and ageism lead to poorer health outcomes (Alliance for Aging research 2003). On a positive note, Mahon (2012) cites an international study that shows that universal healthcare (such as Medicare in the US) effectively availing quality healthcare to the elderly. The downside of this report shows that the elderly in the US pay strikingly more for prescription drugs than their counterparts in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2002) state that research is underway investigating the decline in use of prescription drugs due to their high costs. Poverty is a major determinant of the effectiveness of healthcare in the USA; according to Morgan (2011), the US
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United States Health Care Reform and Accountable Care Organizations
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2 Pages(500 words)Research Paper
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