This paper presents a detailed examination of the future of health care in the St. Louis area. Included in the paper are discussions about economics and population issues as well as changes hat are coming. The writer addresses many economic issues including good and services and resources in the health care industry currently as well as the future projections. There were 12 sources used to complete this paper.
The cost of obtaining health care in the United States has been the topic of tremendous controversy for many years. While some argue that the nation needs to go to socialized medicine similar to the Canadian delivery mode others believe America has the best health care system in the world if only the costs would become more reasonable. The St. Louis MO area is no stranger to rising health care costs. St. Louis is an extremely diverse city which boasts high rise condos, as well as low rent projects. It is the type of area in which the rising costs of health care delivery threatens to choke millions of its area residents. Those who are well off are not immune either. Their taxes are paying for the public health care system that the poor are drawing on and then they have to cover the cost of their own health care needs and insurance costs. In addition to the economic diversity issues and the St. Louis health care system there is a large elderly population in St. Louis. The elderly are being negatively affected by rising health care costs as well. While the nation at large wrestles with the health care delivery system that it has grown to monster proportions the St. Louis area scrambles to determine if there are ways to cut delivery costs, thereby cutting the cost to the consumer. There are many issues to be examined when the topic of health care costs arises. There are basic economic questions as well as discussions about health care for the elderly, health care through public service delivery, and the cost of insurance premiums today and in the future. Another important aspect of any health care discussion is the future. The rising costs and difficult time delivering health care to those who need it is something that is at the limit by many economic and delivery standards. The future looms large ahead and to date there have been no concrete and viable solutions discovered. The question of health care costs and delivery for many diverse styles of populations currently and in the future is becoming more important with each passing year. As the nation struggles to figure out a solution, the St. Louis area scrambles with the same questions locally.
AREA SPECIFIC TROUBLES
The St. Louis area continues to grow as people begin to stretch across the nation in efforts to find the best possible life for themselves and their families. There are several factors that are currently affecting the economic status of the area. One of the first things that affect the current economic status of the area residents is the sagging economy. Through the 1990's the nation enjoyed an economic boon which by the very nature of the world drove the price of many goods and services through the roof. When the economy began to backslide and go into a slump, as history has proven over and over it will do, the cost of health care remained stationary to the pre-slump era. Those who were laid off found themselves without insurance while those who still had jobs discovered it was more difficult to pay the co-pays and the non-covered medical needs.
The St. Louis area health care needs have been examined for a long time. One of the most controversial things that occurred in recent years was the big company insurance cost increases that occurred several years ago (VandeWater, 1998). "Big employers in St. Louis got slapped with some of the highest health insurance rate increases in the country this year, according to a report by Hewitt Associates. The human-resources consulting firm said the average insurance premium here climbed 7.8% to $4,371 per employee. Nationally, the average cost of health plans provided by large employers rose an average of 3.7% to $4,033 per employee. The report, which Hewitt is releasing today, says rate increases in St. Louis outpaced increases in all of the top 20 U.S. markets (VandeWater, 1998). "
This and other problems with health care delivery and cost in the St. Louis area have caused uproar in communities from all different economic backgrounds for better and more affordable health care. Those who work in the economics of the industry are struggling to discover how to deliver better care for less money and how to provide for the poverty stricken and the uninsured. St. Louis is currently facing an underemployment crisis in the area, which further exacerbates the need for a revamped health care cost system that will extend into the future. Over the next fifteen years there are going to be changes in the national as well as local economy, which will translate into changes in the health care industry as well. This proposal addresses the needs as well as the future needs that will be foreseen. Many of the problems are universal to the nation as well as the local area.
St. Louis has the largest hospital health care association in the nation and with that comes the responsibility of leading the way in the way of health care delivery of goods and services as well as cost for those goods and services. "In his role as chairman of the nation's largest hospital and health system association, Brown, the CEO, will play a key role in identifying and working on the association's top priorities. The AHA, founded in 1898, represents 5,000 of the nation's hospitals and health systems. The AHA provides education for health care leaders in important issues and trends (Health, 1999). "
CARE FOR THE POOR
One of the biggest issues facing the St. Louis area is what to do about health care and delivery for the poor. This is a national issue but with St. Louis' current underemployment crisis it is a definite need for the area.
For several years there has been a commission to try and revamp and improve health care goods and services for the poor (Schlinkmann, 2001). There is an agency in place through the commission that handles all aspects of public health care. The commission is charged with collecting data on how the system delivers and what the costs of that delivery amount to. This is being done in the effort to be able to better delivery in the future and provide better service at lower costs to the consumer as well as the taxpayers. "Sources said the state, city and county governments together will provide $400,000 of the new commission's $600,000 budget. The remainder will come from the St. Louis 2004 organization's health care initiative, which will merge into the new agency. Gov. Bob Holden and County Executive George R. "Buzz" Westfall will join Slay in announcing details of the commission. Also taking part will be the co-chairmen of a committee on indigent care - James Buford, president of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, and Dr. William Danforth, former chancellor of Washington University (Schlinkmann, 2001). "
When it comes to public health care St. Louis has some of the worst statistics in the entire nation. "Like many other urban areas, St. Louis has a fragmented health care safety net that includes government-supported health centers, health departments, local hospitals, medical schools, social service agencies, faith-based organizations and community practitioners (Crane, 2002). This safety net is the source of health care for 175,000 uninsured and many underinsured citizens of St. Louis city and county (Crane, 2002)." One proactive step has been to ask a focus group of 350 people to discuss the biggest problems and possible solutions for the future. Currently and in the future it is important to provide working groups who will insure that immigrants and the uninsured will be able to access needed health care. While it can be costly to deliver health care goods and services to this population, not doing so will be even more costly as illnesses and disorders worsen before the patient begins diagnostic procedures and treatments. Refugees and immigrants are particularly susceptible to the problem of obtaining health care services. "Commitments were made to support legislative initiatives to preserve and enhance Medicaid coverage for children and to expand the number of dentists and physicians participating in Missouri's Medicaid program Strategies and tactics were developed to tackle this problem via a partnership that includes faith-based organizations, a community health center, Medicaid HMOs and such groups as Nurses for Newborns (Crane, 2002)."
If the St. Louis area is to narrow the gap in health care services between rich and poor, it must improve primary care for the uninsured rather than continuing to rely on…