A healthy population is a productive population. As such, the healthcare needs of the population are of great importance to the nation. However, the provision of quality healthcare and its access have been affected by rising costs occasioned by many factors. Among these factors are an aging population, increased cases of chronic illnesses, consolidation of service providers, wastage, government policies, and cost of medicines. As a result, the quality of healthcare and the number of people with access has been hindered due to the high costs of services.

Healthcare spending as an aspect of the country’s Gross Domestic Product [GDP] and the cost of healthcare services has been an issue since the 1970’s. However, the issue of healthcare affordability and access came to the fore in 2010 with the adoption of the Affordable Care Act [ACA]. This piece of legislation not only sought to reign in the increased cost of healthcare but also make it accessible to the majority of the American population. Although, various attempts had been made previously to make healthcare affordable and reduce the annual increase in costs, they had the opposite effect. For instance, between 1971 and 1974, President Nixon tried to bring down healthcare costs and bridge the access gap through price controls. However, this failed since the costs rose at the same rate as inflation occasioned by the depreciation of the American Dollar (Liebschutz, 2011). Nonetheless, the cost of healthcare continues to be an issue to date.

Although the rates of healthcare cost increase have declined between 2011 and 2016 compared to the pre 2010 period, the costs are still rising. This is due to the increasing cost of pharmaceutical products. For instance, insistence on the original brand name has seen insurers pay more for medicine while generic versions could have cost less while fulfilling the intended curative purpose. In addition, due to the high number of specialists in the country, the wage bill has also been increasing and in the process increased the overall cost healthcare. Improved technology in various aspects has translated to higher (Purvis, 2008). Nonetheless, the cost of healthcare will continue to increase.

Although it is difficult to stop increase in healthcare costs, the annual rate of increase can be reduced to levels that will not impact the quality or access a by majority of the population. For instance, to reduce cost of pharmaceutical products prescribed, the patients should be provided with information on the availability of alternatives that cost less. Further, better models of payment should be used for emerging technologies in laboratory, imaging, and diagnostic fields (Purvis, 2008). Thus, by reducing wastage and increasing efficiency, the system will be able to bring down healthcare costs.

Increased healthcare costs have a direct impact on the patient’s ability to meet these costs. Thus, an increase in cost of healthcare service leads to increased out of pocket payments which most time the patients cannot afford and they end up getting into medical debts. Besides, high costs limit the patient’s ability to access timely care that may impact their ability to heal or manage a condition. However, with the ACA in place, more people have the potential to access healthcare services compared to 10 years ago.

Due to the structure of payments for services consumed adopted by the Federal Government, some healthcare service providers have chosen who to see and who not to see. Due to the discrepancy in reimbursement rates between Medicare and Medicaid, some physicians have been reluctant to attend to patients with Medicaid policy which caters for low income earners (Ubel, 2017). Consequently, there is evidence that holders of Medicaid are likely to be denied services by physicians.