Medicare has always been emblematic of the broader situation regarding healthcare in the United States. That America is an outlier, with a healthcare system which seems like a hideous mutation, particularly when considered alongside the nationalized systems adopted by other major economic powers, has been accepted for some time.
The issue of healthcare in the US is incredibly divisive, the Trump administration’s failure to pass any kind of meaningful reform, despite controlling all the levers of federal government, is the perfect demonstration of this. The Republican party’s attempts at repealing and replacing Obamacare were scuttled because they couldn’t build a consensus in their own party; whatever plan they put forward was rejected, both by Democrats and either by the moderate or hardline wing of their own party.
Like all previous legislation and programs relating to healthcare, Medicare is a Frankenstein’s monster, each piece being the most palatable compromise successive administrations have been able to strike. Most would agree that Medicare has brought enormous benefits, and no one would deny that it has changed healthcare, and the surrounding debate, in the US.
The most clear advantage of Medicare is that it gave millions of Americans, who previously had no kind of health coverage, a much greater level of social security. Public health is a complex system, it is not only about ensuring the health of individuals but also of the public more generally. Achieving these goals is usually a complementary process, which is to say that by improving individual health, you improve public health, and vice-versa.
Expanding coverage through Medicare meant that individuals who previously had no access to healthcare were now able to vaccinate their children against easily preventable illnesses. This not only protected the health of those children but also minimized the risk to other children that they came in to contact with.
A Prescription Boom
When Medicare was introduced, many more people were suddenly covered and this coverage was eventually extended to include prescription drugs as well as medical devices. This ultimately encouraged a much greater level of investment from the pharmaceutical industry due to a greater certainty that any drugs they produced would be prescribed and they had a good chance of making their money back.
New drugs take a lot of time and money to bring to market, often a decade or more, therefore, the massive increase in investment seen in the wake of Medicare being introduced made a big difference by bringing important drugs to market more quickly.
Demonstration of Value
Perhaps the most important thing that Medicare has achieved is in demonstrating the potential that public health investment offers to nations. If you would like to learn about public health policy, how it is formulated and what it aims to achieve, then you should consider studying an online course. Hofstra Law offers a health law degree, also known as a health policy degree, which teaches students about the legal aspects of health policy.
Medicare has done a great deal to change people’s lives in the United States. While medical coverage is still sadly lacking when compared to other advanced nations, Medicare is the bedrock upon which future change will be built.