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The Importance of Keeping up With Healthcare Policy

The Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Healthcare Administration online program from the University of Northern Colorado's Monfort College of Business prepares you for leading roles in healthcare administration. Throughout the program, students learn about the evolution of healthcare systems and analyze issues to prepare for leadership positions in developing and implementing healthcare policy.

Healthcare administrators direct and coordinate medical and health services in a wide array of settings. They work in hospitals, long-term facilities, urgent-care centers, outpatient clinics and doctors' offices, or for home healthcare providers. Many healthcare administrators work for NGOs, government agencies, nonprofits and insurers. Their responsibilities may include managing a group of doctors, a clinical department or an entire medical facility. Health services managers, in particular, are responsible for keeping their employers up to date with changes in healthcare laws and regulations.

At every level of healthcare administration, professionals in the field make keeping up with healthcare policy a top career priority. Doing so seems to become more important with each election cycle, and the financial and legal ramifications of today's healthcare issues make policy knowledge critical. Here are a few of the issues that highlight the general importance of following policy changes.

The Affordable Care Act: This program was created to ensure affordable healthcare for many Americans who were either uninsured or underinsured. The goal was to remedy the skyrocketing costs of healthcare for the individuals who could least afford it, and to fix some of the injustices in the system, such as rapidly rising rates for those with pre-existing conditions.

The program has since come under scrutiny, as there have been constitutional challenges to the original mandate to purchase insurance, and because insurers have either dropped out or raised rates on covered individuals, despite subsidies.

Today, healthcare policymakers and administrators are working on every level — federal, state and in medical practices, to find ways to keep the ACA alive, or to transition it to more sustainable state and local plans. This will likely require an overhaul, not only of our entire healthcare system but also of the business models of insurers and healthcare providers.

Mental Health: It should not have to take an epidemic of mass killings, especially in schools, to highlight the importance of mental health for the well-being of individuals and society. Mental health has always been as important as physical health, regardless of perception. It is becoming an even more critical issue from a policy perspective, as younger generations seem to be suffering higher rates of anxiety, depression and loneliness (perhaps arising out of technology consumption).

Currently, many Americans in the greatest need of mental healthcare cannot afford it, as either corporate-subsidized insurance limits access, or worse — many who are struggling have no insurance at all. We have learned what happens in a society that does not have adequate mental health resources, but what can be done from a policy perspective to remedy the crisis?

Opioids: The White House has declared opioid addiction a national emergency, and policymakers agree that solutions are needed. Congress has authorized the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016 and the 21st Century Cures Act to fund prevention and treatment. These were important first steps, but healthcare administrators at all levels will need to monitor their impact and make necessary adjustments. Non-monetary policy solutions may also be necessary, including new regulations on the prescribing of opioids and stronger monitoring of individuals on these prescriptions to ensure they do not become addicted.

Between the years of 1900 and 1999, Americans experienced a 29.2-year increase in average life expectancy. A good portion of this increase can be attributed to advancements in public health policy. In the next few decades, we may see a similar jump — if healthcare administrators continue to do as well in keeping up with all of the issues surrounding healthcare policy.

Learn more about the University of Northern Colorado's online MBA program with an emphasis in Healthcare Administration.


Sources:

Arnold & Porter: 5 Health Care Policy Issues to Follow in 2018

Becker's Hospital Review: Michael Dowling: 4 Most Important Healthcare Trends in 2018

CDC: Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Control of Infectious Diseases

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