Disparities in US Healthcare System

Healthcare disparities pose a major challenge to the diverse 21st century America. Demographic trends indicate that the number of Americans who are vulnerable to suffering the effects of healthcare disparities will rise over the next half century. These trends pose a daunting challenge for policymakers and the healthcare system. Wide disparities exist among groups on the basis of race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and geography. Healthcare disparities have occurred across different regional populations, economic cohorts, and racial/ethnic groups as well as between men and women. Education and income related disparities have also been seen. Social, cultural and economic factors are responsible for inequalities in the healthcare system.

The issue of racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare have exploded onto the public stage. The causes of these disparities have been divided into health system factors and patient-provider factors. Health system factors include language and cultural barriers, the tendency for racial minorities to have lower-end health plans, and the lack of community resources, such as adequately stocked pharmacies in minority neighborhoods. Patient-provider factors include provider bias against minority patients, greater clinical uncertainty when treating minority patients, stereotypes about minority health behaviors and compliance, and mistrust and refusal of care by minority patients themselves who have had previous negative experiences with the healthcare system.

The explanation for the racial and ethnic disparities is that minorities tend to be poor and less educated, with less access to care and they tend to live in places where doctors and hospitals provide lower quality care than elsewhere. Cultural or biological differences also play a role, and there is a long-running debate on how subtle racism infects the healthcare system. Inadequate transportation or the lack of knowledge among minorities about hospital quality could also be factors of inadequate care. Racial disparities are most likely a shared responsibility of plans, providers and patients. There's probably not one factor that explains all of the disparity, but health plans do play an important role. Racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare do not occur in isolation. They are a part of the broader social and economic inequality experienced by minorities in many sectors. Many parts of the system including health plans, health care providers and patients may contribute to racial and ethnic disparities in health care.

It is seen that there are significant disparities in the quality of care delivered to racial and ethnic minorities. There is a need to combat the root causes of discrimination within our healthcare system. Racial or ethnic differences in the quality of healthcare needs to be taken care of. This can be done by understanding multilevel determinants of healthcare disparities, including individual belief and preferences, effective patient-provider communication and the organizational culture of the health care system.

To build a healthier America, a much-needed framework for a broad national effort is required to research the reasons behind healthcare disparities and to develop workable solutions. If these inequalities grow in access, they can contribute to and exacerbate existing disparities in health and quality of life, creating barriers to a strong and productive life.

There is a need to form possible strategies and interventions that may be able to lessen and perhaps even eliminate these differences. It is largely determined by assumptions about the etiology of a given disparity. Some disparities may be driven, for example, by gaps in access and insurance coverage, and the appropriate strategy will directly address these shortcomings. The elimination of disparities will help to ensure that all patients receive evidence-based care for their condition. Such an approach will help establish quality improvement in the healthcare industry.

Reducing disparities is increasingly seen as part of improving quality overall. The focus should be to understand their underlying causes and design interventions to reduce or eliminate them. The strategy of tackling disparities as part of quality improvement programs has gained significant attraction nationally. National leadership is needed to push for innovations in quality improvement, and to take actions that reduce disparities in clinical practice, health professional education, and research.

The programs and polices to reduce and potentially eliminate disparities should be informed by research that identifies and targets the underlying causes of lower performance in hospitals. By eliminating disparities, the hospitals will become even more committed to the community. This will help to provide culturally competent care and also improve community connections. It will stimulate substantial progress in the quality of service that hospitals offer to its diverse patient community. Ongoing work to eliminate health disparities will help the healthcare departments to continually evaluate the patient satisfaction with services and achieve equality in healthcare services.

It is important to use some interventions to reduce healthcare disparities. Successful features of interventions include the use of multifaceted, intense approaches, culturally and linguistically appropriate methods, improved access to care, tailoring, the establishment of partnerships with stakeholders, and community involvement. This will help in ensuring community commitment and serve the health needs of the community.

There is the need to address these disparities on six fronts: increasing access to quality health care, patient care, provider issues, systems that deliver health care, societal concerns, and continued research. A well-functioning system would have minimal differences among groups in terms of access to and quality of healthcare services. This will help to bring single standard of care for people of all walks of life.

Elimination of health care disparities will help to build a healthier America. Improving population health and reducing healthcare disparities would go hand in hand. In the health field, organizations exist to meet human needs. It is important to analyze rationally as to what actions would contribute to eliminate the disparities in the healthcare field, so that human needs are fulfilled in a conducive way.

Meenu Arora has contributed her articles for both online and hard copy magazines. Her articles have also been published in international magazines. Presently working in the healthcare industry, she has also written and edited Health Q-A columns for international magazine for 5 years.

Facts About the Small Business Healthcare Tax Credit

The Small Business Healthcare Tax Credit is set to encourage small businesses and tax exempt organizations to provide the necessary healthcare benefit to their employees. This tax credit was introduced in 2010 under the Affordable Care Act. Qualifying businesses and charities can claim this credit and therefore reduce their tax bill dollar for dollar. This credit is available to both first time healthcare providing employers and employers who have been providing healthcare for their employees in the past. Below are the qualifying requirements for the tax credit:

Business Size

To qualify for the Small Business Healthcare Credit, a business or tax exempt organization needs to have a maximum of 25 full time employees or equivalent. These employees need to earn on average, not more than $50,000. An organization whose size is larger than this threshold does not qualify for the credit. The IRS determines whether an employee is full time or not according to the definition provided by the Department of Labor. According to the Department of Labor, a full time employee is an employee who works for at least 30 hours a week for the same employer.

Credit to Claim

For the tax years 2010 to 2013, qualifying businesses can claim up to 35% of Healthcare premiums paid for its employees while tax exempt organizations can claim up to 25% of their employee Healthcare expense. However, for 2014 and beyond, the credit goes up to 50% of premiums paid for qualifying businesses and 35% for qualifying tax-exempt organizations.

Non Refundable Credit

The Small Business Healthcare Credit is a non refundable tax credit. Therefore, organizations and businesses that qualify to claim the credit can only use up the credit against due taxes. These qualifying organizations cannot get a refund check against the credit. However, if a qualifying small business does not use up all its credit on the year of claiming, it can carry forward the credit from 2010 to 2016

Filing the Claim

For a business or tax exempt organization to successfully claim this tax credit, they need to file Form 8941, Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums. This forms enables the employers to list the employees and premiums paid and calculate the qualifying credit that they will claim for a given tax year. The qualifying employer also needs to claim the final Healthcare tax credit amount on the Form 3800, General Business Credit as part of the general business credits.

It is also important that employers keep the relevant documentation to support the claim in case of an IRS audit. The support documentation includes receipts of premiums paid or a statement from your healthcare provider.

Rob L Daniel and partners of Limon Whitaker & Morgan, for years have helped businesses and individuals Nationwide, with their delinquent IRS & State tax problems. The firm is based in Los Angeles, California USA. http://www.limonwhitaker.com / Tel:888.321.6188

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Benefits of Online Healthcare Administration Degrees

An online healthcare administration degree offers people the opportunity to work within various different and growing industries. One might think the benefit of an online degree is not different depending on the degree. However, in healthcare, an online degree can help you gain experience while you strive for better positions within your organization. Generally, the benefits of an online MHA degree will help you gain a career path and a future.

The first major benefit of an online degree is that you have the opportunity to work while you are pursuing your education. This might seem obvious, but in healthcare administration this is a huge bonus. General business degrees and other online degrees do not offer you the focus that a healthcare administration degree might. This program will help you gain entry into the field of health care management.

For example, many different programs offer you virtual career support so you can gain a position within a hospital, medical device company, or government offices. In the event the program does offer these services, you will have a leg up on the competition. Many programs also require some internship. In these experiences, you will have the opportunity to network and gain a possible entry level position in these organizations.

The second major benefit is that it is one of the few online degrees with a very specific focus. General business programs do offer benefits, but the focus on health care gives you the opportunity to focus your time and effort within a specific area. This focus will not only help you understand a specific area in depth, but it will also allow employers to look at your seriously.

Many employers wonder whether someone is simply interested in a job or an actual career in their industry. In health care, the organizations will take notice that you are focusing your efforts on their industry and how to manage these organizations. These organizations will look at your first against other people without the degree. In the end, you will be able to distinguish yourself with an MHA degree.

The third major benefit is that you can be introduced to students throughout the country. These online programs provide a lot of interaction with students, professors, and professionals. You will work on projects with others and even visit the campus for a week or two during the year. At these times, you will get the chance to work with people new to the field but also students that are in the field. These professionals that are already in the field will certainly allow the opportunity for future jobs.

One student who was discussing their story explained that they received their first job offer from a fellow student in their program. The student worked with the other student on multiple projects. The other student was a hospital CFO and once the program finished, the CFO offered the student a position within their office. This is one of many examples of this occurring.

These programs offer many benefits, but an MHA Degree will certainly allow you the flexibility needed to become a future hospital executive.

If you are interested in a Masters of Health Administration program, then please feel free to visit my website that discusses Online MHA Degree programs.