Two years after the outburst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States health care system and its workers took a very big toll and have forced our medical workers to their breaking point, including the patients. As of today, Americans are in medical debt of atleast $140 million, more or less. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that nearly half a million healthcare workers have quit their jobs since February of 2020. While the Center for Disease Control and Precention reported that US lifeexpectancy dropped by 1.5 years in 2020. The biggest sice world war II.
India Gomez, Clinical Psychologist in the San Francisco bay area said "Everyone, Whether providers or patients, are underresourced. The healthcare system is bogged down, people are struggling to get medical supplies and can't even get responses from their providers".
"It is not sustainable for helathcare providers to continue to compensate for a very broken system, To sustain the level of intensity of care for such a prolonged period, it has actually caused me a scale back my work in the interest of my own health" says Gomez as Americans suffer more mentally.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2019, only one in 10 adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. That number jumped to 4 in 10 adults in 2021.
The frustration of Gomez is not unique. According to the Congressional Budget Office, their reasearchers found that insurance companies paid their in-network mental health care providers 13% to 14% less than medicare did for the same services, after examining 39 million claims from AETNA, Humana and UnitedHelathcare members. These Insurance providers limited the number of sessions have with a patient.
In 2008, the Mental Healtg Parity and Addiction Equity Act was supposed to ensure health insurance companies to provide mental health benefits, but after 14 years, the Department of Labor, health and Human Services and the Treasury put this law to the test and surveyed the first wave of health plan sponsors. Sadly, no one passed.
It is seen that Americans need more healthcare insurance niw adays, that is why the Agency for Healthcare Reasearch and Quality was made. Heading this department is Robert Otto Valdez, PhD, MHSA. He was appointed last february 2022. He previously served a number of government and academic posts, including stints at the federal Department of Health and Human Services and as a special adviser to the Whitehouse Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. Valdez had an interview with MEDICAL ECONOMICS and he stated that not everyone knows about AHRQ and how they work. They are tasked to improved the healthcare system in America (acces barriers, uncontrolled prices and costs, unacceptable quality widespread racial and ethnic disparities and inequities in the way resourcesare distributed accross the country and locally.) He said that the national spending is projected to eat up 1/5 of the entire economy by 2026. We need to put our healthcare systems on top of our priorities. Primary care and providing primary care in our country needs to be the backbone of building high quality healthcare delivery system.
Valdez said that the AHRQ are doing its best in recognizing what is better to do for our future to be insured and our healthcare be prepared for whatever circumstances that may happen on the way.
We all have different priorities in our lives. But whatever they may be, let us always put the health and wellness of ourselves and our family on top of our priority list. Our government are doing their best to help us. May we also help ourselves in doing so.