In recent times, there have been sweeping reforms in the health sector. In light of this, there is one overarching question many people ask: what is the role of the government in provision of healthcare?
This is a complex question especially since the government has to regulate without being too involved: the concept of the invisible hand of the government. Besides, there are mixed feelings over the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Act (PPACA). The new law significantly changes the duty of the government in the U.S. healthcare sector.
Understanding the role of the government in provision of healthcare services
Across the globe, there are particular duties the government plays in the health sector:
In less-developed countries, the governments play a minimal role in the regulation and provision of healthcare.
For purposes of ensuring safety and health, the government, at both regional and national level, is tasked with licensing medical providers and regulating medicine and medical devices.
In some countries, there are stringent regulations that govern healthcare system business practices as well as requiring citizens to buy health insurance.
Buying and Partial Provision of healthcare services
Many governments across the globe- including the United States of America- often offer health insurance to those in public service. The governments may also directly provide or pay for the medical care of certain groups of people – for example, veterans, elderly, and active military personnel.
Primary provider of healthcare services
There is a slew of countries that use taxes from citizens to fund national healthcare system. Governments, in this case, are called the single-payer systems, and in these systems, the government is the only provider of health insurance coverage and can also manage various aspects of the delivery of healthcare. Here, healthcare providers are in most cases government employees, and the government runs the hospitals.
From these modes of intervention of the government in healthcare provision, it is clear to all and sundry, even to the completely free market-based economies like the US, that making policies based on the simplistic grasp of a government’s participation. Countries such as Ghana, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, and Kenya have a better systems simply because they combine the government’s role and a free market in a thoughtful manner.
Whichever the case, many experts, concur that the role of the government should be limited to regulation.