Guest Post: How Nursing Can Help Reduce Healthcare Costs

Yes, the election has come and gone. No doubt we’re still suffering from the latent effects of election-fatigue, buzzwords still echoing in our heads like bad nightmares; stimulus packages, fiscal cliffs, economic malaise, and the ever-popular budget cuts. But the super-sensitive topic at the crux of our current political polarization is undoubtedly, one of healthcare. It’s hard not to get caught up in all the political hoopla in regards to current policies versus proposed plans and how we seem unable to find that magic bullet to rescue us from this healthcare maelstrom instead of dooming us further into the partisan abyss.

It has been estimated that between 2012-2022, Medicare spending will skyrocket through the current $550 billion to the astronomical tune of $1.064 trillion (that’s trillion with a ‘T’). Medicaid will likely double from $253 billion to $592 billion. Additional costs created by expenditures and subsidies for mandatory healthcare will rise from $25 billion to $181 billion. Where will all this money come from?

To counter rising healthcare costs, the burden will be shouldered by all Americans. But don’t start crying that the sky is falling just yet; there is a remedy that would not only benefit our healthcare needs and reduce costs, but also maintain that all-important mark of quality. How? Let’s take a look at how nursing can be the ultimate solution to remedy our economic woes as well help improve our overall good health.

  • Nurse Practitioner: One of the fastest rising fields of healthcare, Nurse Practitioners (NPs) can receive their training and certification four-five times quicker than a physician. The costs of educating an NP is far less than the cost of putting a medical student through medical school and with quicker training that means seeing more patients earlier and subsequently shorter waiting lines and getting in and out of the doctor’s office and on your way to better health in a much more efficient manner. Nearly 96% of all Nurse Practitioners can write prescriptions and according to healthcare studies, patients ranked them as high as they would their primary doctor.
  • Traveling Nurses: If you can earn your nursing degree, than a host of numerous healthcare opportunities will arise for you. Among them are temporary jobs with flexible schedules, some such assignments include nursing jobs all over our country as well as overseas. Here in the states such a program is called, “Nurse-Family Partnership”. This provides a visiting nurse to make house calls for lower income families that might not have the opportunity otherwise to have high quality healthcare provided for them.
  • Silver Boom: In the next twenty years, the elderly population will not only increase due to aging baby boomers but because of better diagnoses and preventative care, we are ALL living longer and more productive lives. According to the Center for Healthcare Workforce Studies*, by the year 2050 the number of older adults will increase from 12.5% to 20% of the United States population (this is among the population of those 65 years and older).

At the end of the day, healthcare will continue to grow as our population follows along this similar trend. Having nurses filling in those costly gaps will pay off down the road with better care, quicker appointment availability and lower overall costs. And in a climate of ever-changing political landscapes, to have one sector not only reducing costs but composed of those continually seeking higher quality standards would be hard to argue against.

*”The Impact of the Aging Population in the Healthcare Workforce in the United States Summary of Key Findings” – Center for Healthcare Workforce Studies, School of Public Healthy, University at Albany.

Kathryn Norcutt has been an active member of the health care community for over 20 years. During her time as a nurse, she has helped people from all walks of life and ages. Now, Kathryn leads a much less hectic life and devotes most of her free time to writing for RNnetwork, a site specializing in travel nursing jobs.

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