According to the World Health Organization, healthcare spending in the United States comprised 40% of the world’s health expenditures, with a total of approximately 2.6 trillion dollars spent and a per capita expenditure of over $5000 in 2010. In the same year, the United States spent almost ten times the total healthcare spending in China, a country with approximately 4.5 times the population of the US. It is no surprise that industry experts are searching for ways to address this growing crisis.
With the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (also known as Obamacare or the ACA), the United States healthcare industry saw the creation of a massive online marketplace hosting information about many different public health insurance coverage plans available as alternatives to private health insurance. The Affordable Care Act also contains several controversial mandates that require small business owners with more than 50 full-time employees to purchase health insurance benefits for their full -time staff, as well as a mandate that individuals without health insurance must purchase one of the public health insurance packages or pay a financial penalty. These developments are slowly bringing the United States closer to a universal coverage healthcare delivery system (one in which all citizens receive health insurance through a massive reservoir of public and private tax revenue). Keep Private Health Insurance Companies from Artificially Inflating Prices may also help
What are the healthcare spending trends in countries where universal coverage is the norm? How can we expect socialized healthcare to change in the coming years? Primarily, industrialized nations with a large population of baby boomers (babies born between 1945 and 1964) are looking at how to address the healthcare delivery problems associated with a disproportionate segment of their populations reaching retirement age and seeking more healthcare services. Hospital administrators worldwide are looking at green energy alternatives in hospital equipment, higher-efficiency hospital network software, and re-organization of full-time hospital staff as possible solutions for trimming costs while providing essential end-of-life care to a large number of citizens.
Many nations with universal coverage already in place also place high value on medical research and development. Re-designing surgical procedures to be less invasive (minimally-invasive surgery) and continually improving medical technology are absolutely essential in curbing costs due to the fact that these measures often serve to drastically reduce the amount of hospital care a particular patient requires. Lowering a hospital’s average length of stay (LOS) means less stress for employees, more beds for incoming patients, and possibly more federal revenue depending on how the hospital’s arrangements with its country’s health services. In order to meet increasing demand over the coming years, hospitals across the industrialized world will continue to re-examine how to trim these and other operational costs.