The delivery of quality health care services to all is the ultimate goal of all aspects of health care administration. The government thus enacts policies and initiates programs and projects designed to fulfill this enormous burden (Barr, 2002). Considering the complexity of the system of health care services, policies and programs are formulated and enacted by the government, through its agencies, in order to ensure the efficient operation of the various aspects of this system.
This system involves various aspects, such as health care insurance, professional rules, and many others (Mason, Leavitt & Chaffee, 2007). These various parts of the health care system are all interrelated. They are regulated through policy and politics. Policy and politics enables the facilitation of change, and this allows the entire health care system to survive (Mason, Leavitt & Chaffee, 2007). A problem in a single aspect of the health care system alone could cause a dent in the efficacy of the operations of the whole system.
One specific aspect that occupies such an important role is the Medicare system, which is the key program of the United States government that provides health care coverage to the most needy, such as the elderly and the incapacitated (Andersen, Rice & Kominski, 2001). This paper shall discuss the history of the Medicare system, its importance, its role in addressing the problem of uninsurance and rising health care costs in the United States, the regulatory agencies influencing its further operations and policies, and future directions of the system.
Brief Background of Health Care Coverage In the 1940s, health care institutions and individuals started to realize that health care insurance is capable of spreading the risk of expensive medical conditions across a large population base (U. S. Census Bureau). Thus began the rising popularity of health care insurance. People realized the great value of health care insurance, particularly in preventing personal bankruptcy in case of serious health problems and making sure that health care services become more accessible to the public (Brayton Purcell LLP).
This important realization led to a significant expansion in the coverage of private health insurance. Such expansion, in turn, led to a stronger financial foundation, which supported increased investment in better equipment and facilities for medicine and health care. The importance of health care insurance in maintaining the health of the American population is underscored by findings such as the one made in 1998 by the United States Census Bureau, which stated that there is a direct correlation between the rate of private health insurance and the number of people with excellent health (U.
S. Census Bureau, the Official Statistics, 1998). Hence, it is apparent that the interrelations involved in the health care insurance business and health care administration produce invaluable results. This finding is supported by the following table: Despite the fact that this finding placed private health care insurance in a higher level of service and efficiency rather than government-funded health care coverage, the great help offered by the government in providing health care coverage to the most needy, such as the elderly and incapacitated, cannot be denied.
Indeed, as it is the government that is primarily responsible for ensuring the provision of health care services to its citizens and inhabitants, establishing a program that provides free coverage to qualified persons is a big step towards meeting its great responsibility (Andersen, Rice & Kominski, 2001). Government Funding of Health Care Coverage: the Medicare Program On July 30, 1965, the Medicare and Medicaid health coverage programs were signed into law.
This was an important initiative of the United States government in providing health care coverage to poor persons who were eligible for federally supported, state-run welfare programs. (Andersen, Rice & Kominski, 2001). Thus, since the 1960s, Medicare had already been involved in providing health insurance for senior citizens in the country. This group of citizens was the first to be included in the coverage of the Medicare program (Andersen, Rice & Kominski, 2001).