The Major Problems in the U.S. Healthcare System and How They May Be Fixed

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Scientific progress has brought massive improvements to our health and wellness. As health care administrators discover new ways to serve the health needs of our communities, our health care system attempts to stay up-to-date and serve patients. However, there are still major problems in the U.S. health care system, and it is important to address these issues to get a more equitable, efficient, and effective medical system.

Major Problems in the U.S. Health Care System

While this is not an exhaustive list, these are some of the biggest issues that future health care professionals will grapple with to improve the U.S. health care system.

Government Changes to Health Care Policies

Health care has become a major topic of debate in the U.S. as rival political parties hold different beliefs on how the system should be run and each attempt to put forth legislation that will shape the system toward their political ideology. Political health care stakeholders such as the insurance and pharmaceutical industries spend millions of dollars each year on lobbying efforts that also influence potential reform. As such, it can be difficult to establish long-term solutions to our health care system’s problems since ideological shifts take place throughout the course of any solution implementation.

The Nursing and Physician Shortage

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, we need over 200,000 registered nurses per year through 2026. This will result from population growth and aging; older patients need more access to medical resources than younger ones, and aging doctors and nurses affect supply. These shortages could prove troublesome for service access, as hospitals will struggle to keep up with clinical demand.

The Opioid Crisis

Opioid abuse is one of the major problems in the U.S. health care system. The National Institute on Drug Abuse claims that 130 people die in the U.S. every day from an opioid overdose. This includes prescribed painkillers, heroin, fentanyl, and other synthetic opioids. The economic costs of this crisis have reached $78.5 billion per year. This issue began during the 1990s, as health care providers were not aware of the addictive side effects of prescribed opioid painkillers and their prescription rates increased. Twenty-one to 29% of patients were prescribed opioid painkillers for chronic pain.

Poor Patient Outcomes

Whereas mortality rates have fallen in the U.S. consistent with comparable countries in the past few decades, the rates of amenable mortality across the country are poor. This measure tracks mortality as it relates to preventable and treatable issues and is directly tied to health care access. Moreover, the disease burden, which factors in years lost due to disability and premature death, is also high in the U.S. compared to similar countries.

Poor Public Perceptions

Public perception of the health care system is impacted by negative experiences and the politicized debates over reform and best practices. Seven in 10 Americans hold a negative view of our health care system according to Gallup polls. The Affordable Care Act changed some perceptions of the system, yet its ratings have remained consistently negative since its implementation.

How Can Individuals Gain the Skills to Meet These Challenges?

To improve the major problems in the U.S. health care system, talented professionals are needed to evaluate and enact policy changes to improve the lives of others. A Master of Health Administration degree (MHA) can provide prospective health care innovators with the tools and experience necessary to make meaningful contributions to altruistic health care organizations. Four skills that are developed with this degree are technical proficiency, sharp analytical skills, leadership acumen, and communication.

  • Technical proficiency. Information systems are essential for health care professionals. MHA students will analyze these systems and learn their uses in different medical settings.
  • Sharp analytical skills. Students will learn to thoroughly analyze health care policies and proposals and consider their short-term and long-term effects.
  • Leadership acumen. Students will study leadership techniques relating to health care, including topics like managing change, intra-organizational communication, and high-level decision-making.
  • Working in health care requires communication skills on a variety of different levels. Students will learn valuable tools to interact with stakeholders, employees, and legal counsel.

Fixing the U.S. Health Care System

There are major problems in the U.S. health care system, but the next generation of health care innovators can rise to the challenge by pursuing a Master of Health Administration. Ohio University offers a two-year degree program that is 100% online and does not require a GRE score. Visit the Ohio University website today to see if this program is the right fit for you.

Recommended Readings

Curriculum that Reflects the Changing Landscape of Health Care

Ethical Dilemmas Faced by Today’s Health Care Administrators

Health Care Legislation


Association of American Medical Colleges, “New Research Shows Increasing Physician Shortages in Both Primary and Specialty Care”

Becker’s Hospital Review, “These Are the 8 Most Disruptive Issues in Health Care”

Gallup, “Seven in 10 Maintain Negative View of U.S. Health Care System”

Health System Tracker, “How Does the Quality of the U.S. Health Care System Compare to Other Countries?”

National Institutes of Health, “Opioid Overdose Crisis”

Ohio University, Online Master of Health Administration