Health care is undergoing a dramatic transformation and needless to say it is one of our largest industries that contribute handsomely to the Gross Domestic Product, greater demands are placed for the value of dollars that are being spent to provide for healthcare services to patients. Now-a-days, in this ever demanding environment marketing as a discipline is being practiced (Berkowitz, October 2010)
In early days it was a great debate that whether marketing should be practiced in a profession or not. Recent trends have shown that in order to provide for patients there needs to be an effective marketing team. In modern era, the consumers are not only able to access information but they are also able to communicate their experiences of healthcare services via comprehensive social networks i.e. with other people online on the internet or out on the streets. The Web provides a platform where information can be collected, shared and accessed to alter landscape for buyers and patients alike. Government has also made organizations to share their information on voluntary basis so that the customers are aware about the healthcare and the services; there is more transparency. Finally, it is no longer a localized market place; there is a new 'global health care market place' which means that consumers have various options and can seek the best value for their money (Berkowitz, October 2010).
It is the amalgamation of all these factors (value, consumer shopping, transparency and global competition) that make marketing an intrinsic and a core aspect in provision of healthcare today. Health care is a 'dynamic industry'; as technology increases, demand for better value rises and competition heightens at the global level there is a growing need to understand and apply core marketing concepts in this evolving healthcare industry (Berkowitz, October 2010).
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), informally referred to as Obamacare, is a United States federal statute that was signed into law by President Barack Obama on the 23rd of March 2010 (Pear & Herszenhorn, 2010). Along with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act it is the most significant health reform in United States history since Medicare and Medicaid n 1965.
PPACA aims at decreasing the number of citizens that do not fall under the insurance umbrella. Apart from extending the healthcare to all of its citizens the PPACA also targets reducing the overall costs of health care. The plan provides a number of incentives. These incentives are subsidies, tax credits and fees to employers and uninsured individuals both to increase the overall coverage. It also requires the insurance companies to cover all applicants and charge them at the same fee regardless of the pre-existing conditions and gender. The Congressional Budget Office also projected that plan of such nature will help save the health care expenditures that are quite high (curtailing the overspending) and also prove fruitful in reducing the deficit faced by the country today (Health Care Reform in the United States).
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of majority of PPACA in the case of National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius on the 28th of June 2012 .
In order to open debate on the topic, it is important to realize that the role of two significant factors cannot be overlooked. These two factors are class and age (See Appendix A and Appendix B). In order to fully describe the top and look at it in detail it is important that we not only consider the pro's and con's of the Obama plan but also see what these pro's and con's mean for people belonging from different age groups and classes. By classes here, we mean the socio-economic classes based on income distribution in households.
We live in a time when recession has hit the world. Europe's financial and economic crisis in particular and the global recession in general can be likened to the Great Depression of 1930's. America suffers from recession that has marred markets globally; job losses and rising unemployment levels mean that the new generation the likes of young and middle aged unemployed masses should be insured incase an emergency befalls them. The last thing we need are health issues on top of the economic problems that are currently faced by people of all ages and classes. Now it may be argued that in absence of the health care plan when a person loses a job the current law still provides insurance in the form of COBRA. However, this is incredibly expensive and is not able to cater to the needs of the families and individuals belonging to the low socio economic background (My Family Doctor, 2011).
The new health plans is structured in such a manner that it targets the 13.8% of the people living below the poverty level (Bureau, 2012). The new plan will expand the existing Medicare services to such people. Under the Obama plan the businesses have been offered incentives to provide health care benefits for the working class. It prohibits claims that are made on pre-existing conditions and apart from subsidizing insurance premiums also forbids the insurers from establishing any sort of annual coverage caps. The Obama plan caters to the needs of the poor and the working alike; it focuses on the people belonging to various socio-economic classes. It is a plan for 'all' American citizens living in the modern era.
Today in U.S. The health care expenditures are agonizingly concentrated, the most expensive 5% of the population accounts for almost 50% of the aggregate healthcare expenditure and the bottom 50% account for a mere 3%. The insurers' benefits by avoiding the sick massively outweigh the benefits achieved from managing the care of this low income class group. Since the 1970s insurers have insured only those with good health or people who are less likely to get sick or unhealthy. The insurance coverage has excluded the likes of those who are sick and more likely to become unhealthy (the term unhealthy and healthy being more subjective in nature here) to make their businesses more profitable (Blumberg & Holahan, 2009).
Starting from the year 2014 under the Obama law the uninsured citizens will be required to buy government approved insurance policy. The government will inform citizens about all the plans available and help individuals in comparing the plans in order to help them 'best buy' (Jost, 2010). This is based on the idea of economics concept of perfect information where the consumers of the services know everything about the product itself. In addition, it will help in increasing the health care coverage and bringing healthcare on the doorsteps of people.
Obama plan allays the fears of the old age group (i.e. To say the baby boomers generation) by shifting the health care expenditure burden on to the younger and healthier people (Samuelson, 2009). In this way the burden of health care gets a more even distribution as the health care base increases. By making the healthcare mandatory and not a voluntary act, the plan achieves exactly that.
The Obama Plan makes insurers cover more costs; it requires that at least 80% of the premiums be spent on medical care. Also it requires "full coverage for screenings" and inhibits lifetime and annual insurance caps (Medical loss ratio: getting your money's worth on health insurance, 2010). By doing so the government makes sure that inadequate insurance schemes are rooted out. By making health insurance plans more cost effective there can be more health care coverage. It makes health care accessible to people from low socio economic backgrounds and breaks the inequality trap by striking directly on the grappling healthcare concentration situation already mentioned above in this paper.
Why should the insurance coverage be expanded in the first place especially in the modern epoch where the cost of living is increasing on diurnal basis? Is it really necessary that our new generation be made to pay for healthcare when they can use the same money to invest and save? Some studies argue that despite the costs incurred expanding insurance and healthcare coverage leads to better health. A Harvard study published in 2009 claims that on absence of insurance there were 44,800 excessive deaths annually in the United States of America. While other reports may have found less correlation these studies focus has been very narrow and non-representative populace and hence they fail to account for masses actually suffering from diseases such as diabetes and are in dire need for healthcare (Sorlie, Johnson, Backlund, & Bradham, November 1994).
In modern era when U.S. like other countries is facing stiff economic recession it is of utmost importance that steps be taken by the authorities to curb those factors that are actually causing this crisis in the first place. Today, America's economy is burdened by the immense volume of debt. In order for economy to get better and masses to experience the macro effects (the trickledown effect) it is the need of the hour that we reduce the deficit gap. This can…