|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||United States Healthcare Public health|
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the United States is currently one of the most controversial subjects. It is a policy that is geared towards ascertaining that all Americans are able to gain access to quality and affordable healthcare. This Act was passed in 2010, and now provides Americans with comprehensive health coverage with millions of families having been previously been unable to acquire such benefits owing to the high cost of healthcare. The cover provides financial security to an ailing individual. Also, in the event that a person has a pre-existing condition, the insurance company responsible provides coverage for the ailment. Premiums are also equal amongst members from both genders. Besides, the Act blocks insurance entities from selling substandard plans to customers. It is also possible for children to be covered by their parent's health insurance plan until they are 26 years old. There are various sociological perspectives on the Affordable Care Act. This analysis will, however, focus on The Functionalist Approach since it emphasizes on society`s efficiency unlike conflict theory and symbolic interactionalism.
The structural functionalist approach has been chosen since the Affordable Care Act is concerned with the interests of individuals in the society. It seeks to subsidize the cost of health care in a bid to alleviate the burden from people. Functionalist perspective further differs from the symbolic interactionalist since the latter component requires that the socialists consider aspects such as symbols and how people relate to one another in the society. Whenever individuals in the society become sick they are incapable of functioning normally. This is essentially what the Functionalist Approach focuses on. Moreover, Symbolic Interactionalism and Functionalist perspective differ where the latter element has a macro perspective regarding the outlook of society. On the contrary the Symbolic interactionalism bears a micro perspective owing to its focus on the behaviors of individuals. Also, while both perspectives focus on the positive aspects of the society, Conflict theory emphasizes on the negative and conflicted nature of society (Blumenthal, David and Sara 278). The Functionalist perspective further asserts that ill people fail to perform their social roles and hence productivity ends up being impacted. There are, therefore, two risks involved; one where a sick person experiences a lot of difficulty in trying to get better and the healthy person being under the risk of infection.
The sick role is one of the concepts which has been elaborated under the Functionalist sociological perspective. This alludes to the expectations for a person who is considered to be legitimately sick (Koh, Howard and Kathleen 1297). Under the same ideal, it is necessary that people are not viewed as having contributed to their own health detriments. One can observe that a person who ends up being obese owing to overconsumption of unhealthy foods gets lesser sympathy compared to a scenario where they were partaking in the consumption of healthy diets. In a similar way, the same perspective considered accidental occurrences occurring out of negligence an aspect likely to evoke little sympathy. It is also apparent that ailing individuals have to be eager to get will failure to which it can be deemed that they are faking the illness (Mariner 437). Besides, the perspective further requires that an individual is diagnosed with an illness by the doctor before they are considered to be ill.
The best way for a person to understand illness under the functionalist perspective is that it is a form of deviance which disrupts social functions of individuals in the society (Clarke). There are customary rights which are adopted when one becomes sick with the most socially accepted function being their exemption from duties. The second right is for the sick person not to be viewed as having caused the condition they are suffering from. They ailing person is, nevertheless, responsible for their own recovery. The perspective further points to three distinct versions of the sick role: Unconditional legitimate, conditional, and illegitimate (Clarke). Those under the last category are shunned by other individuals in the society.
Also, under the Functionalist perspective, physicians are expected to perform specific duties. One pertains to diagnosing the patient and then coming up with a comprehensive way of treating them. In order for this to be possible, the perspective requires that the person is cooperative and strictly follows every guideline offered to them by the doctor (Mariner 437). They also have an obligation of responding to any questions asked about their condition. In this case, the Functionality viewpoint regards the relationship between the patient and the doctor as hierarchical, whereby one person gives orders and the other obeys. In this case, there is an assumption that communication is one-way, implying that the patients does not ask questions regarding their medical condition. They, instead rely fully on the doctor`s knowledge.
Opposing viewpoints have nevertheless being brought up to discount the essence of the functionalist outlook. For instance, the opponents argue that the assumption of the sick role is not justifiable since no individual can delight in being deemed sick. The critics also argue that further assumptions are made whereby the individual does not conform to the expectations of the sick role (Schwartz, Robert L., et al). Also, the idea that this perspective appears to assume that the sick person gives up their social obligation and may also resist dependency, are aspects that critics seek to repudiate. There is also an assumption where the ill person avoids the public sick role. Moreover, the idea that the perspective appears to assume that the sick are blamed for their illness has been disclaimed. Also, sceptics believe that a person should not be subjected to scrutiny as a requirement for the medical procedure as proposed by the theory.
It is also evident that part of the reason why people oppose this functionality perspective is due to the fact that the sick role aspect proposed only relates to short-term illnesses. In this case, long-term chronic diseases appear to have been sidelined. Also, there is an assumption that people get into sick roles for a premeditated duration of time, then later on emerge healthy and return to their normal lives. This is not necessarily the case since the people suffering from critical illnesses get into the sick role and remain there for an extended duration and some of them even stay in the same condition for the rest of their lives (Mariner 437). Those who critique the perspective further allege that the social backgrounds of individuals do indeed determine a person`s possibility of getting sick and also the most likely form of treatment they end up getting. This is a factor that has been ignored. Additionally, the idea of a hierarchical relationship is not necessary factual. Instead, people tend to ask multiple questions to the doctor regarding their condition and what can be done to reverse it. Also, based on the idea that physicians do not offer the best quality of care to the patients, the reason might have emanated from the hierarchical structure which acts as a deterrent. There is no way that the physician can be capable of satisfying the client if they are the only ones asking the questions and giving instructions.
Also further opposing views pertain to assumption made that the society is made up of its members. Instead, sceptics argue that the society bears its own form of reality which is not dependent on others. Moreover, human entities tend to be egoistic and hence they lookout for their own selfish interests rather than that of other people. They are, nonetheless constrained to think and act in a manner that edifies society. The Affordable Care Act is, therefore, undermined by those who believe that the American health care system was better off initially. Moreover, those who are against the new Act tend to hold the belief that the insurance companies are pilfering medical funds. Additionally, medical care ends up not being as affordable for people as was anticipated.
Further sociological intuition indicates that the Functionalist approach edifies the Affordable Care Act. It manages to offer assistance to individuals especially those who belong to destitute backgrounds. Besides, a majority of Americans did not have a medical insurance cover prior to the establishment of this Act. As well, some people could only afford ordinary medical care whereas this law has ensured that all people are able to access quality care (Blumenthal, David and Sara 279). The function of subsidization works perfectly in the same manner proposed by the Functionality perspective. The contributions made by individuals who do not become sick end up subsidizing those of the people who are admitted for high cost ailments. This is mainly one of the means via which the Act manages to offer affordable care to patients. Moreover, far from the actual treatment costs covered by the ACA it has been established that the greatest detriment to healthcare is the high cost of drugs offered to patients. This is why people such as President Trump are not in support of the ACA. According to him for instance, the United States does not need such an act in order to improve healthcare. Instead, if a solution was found to cater for the high cost of medication, then Americans would not have to spend exorbitant amounts of money on their health.
To sum it up, it is apparent that the Affordable Care Act is one of the most fundamental regulations which has managed to refurbish the health care sector within the United States. With specific focus on the Functionalist sociological perspective, it is evident that that some of the concepts offer a greater understanding regarding the concept of sickness and various roles played by individuals. For instance, the sick role is attainable by a person who appears to be genuinely sick. Also, the physician bears the responsibility of diagnosing the sick person and establishing the best form of treatment that can be offered to them. It is, however, apparent that sceptics view some assumptions of the Functionalist Approach to be unreliable. For example, the idea that the sick role only exists in individuals for a specific duration is not true since there are people who live with illnesses for the entire duration of their life. Based on this sociological review it can be concluded that more reforms will have to be made in order for the American healthcare system to become fully effective.
Blumenthal, David, and Sara R. Collins. "Health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act-a progress report." (2014): 275-281.
Clarke, Alan. The sociology of healthcare. Routledge, 2013.
Koh, Howard K., and Kathleen G. Sebelius. "Promoting prevention through the affordable care act." New England Journal of Medicine 363.14 (2010): 1296-1299.
Mariner, Wendy K. "The Picture Begins to Assert Itself: Rules of Construction for Essential Health Benefits in Health Insurance Plans Subject to the Affordable Care Act." Annals Health L. 24 (2015): 437.
Schwartz, Robert L., et al. Health law: cases, materials and problems. West Academic Publishing, 2013.
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