Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “an ordinary condition of the body that affects the total quality of life and not just the absence of sickness and disease.” A number of definitions have since been used over time for various purposes. Today, health is a word that is often used in reference to quality of life, or general well-being. Some health terms are even used interchangeably with terms such as well being and happiness. This article briefly discusses some of the more common health terms, how they’re used, and their value in general.
The best way to explain health is to consider it in terms of systems. In most cases, a health system is a system that serves a number of people who need care at the same time. The definition of a system may also be “a collection of systems designed to provide services for the community” or it may simply be a “distribution system.” Systems might be public and private. Public health is a system that is often implemented as part of a larger governmental strategy. Examples include Medicaid, which provides health coverage for low-income families and individuals, and the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Medicaid program, which provides medical care to people with disabilities.
The term “social well-being” can be used to describe a state of complete mental, emotional, and physical health. This type of condition usually includes all aspects of the four “tones” mentioned above. This condition is best described as a state that has an optimum combination of internal resources and external contributions made by friends, family, and society. When someone has a good combination of health resources – physical health, emotional health, and social resources – they will be happy, productive citizens. When someone has a poor combination of these components, they will be unhappy, unhealthy, and likely live a life lacking in optimal levels of physical health, emotional health, and social resources.
A better description of a health care system is one that defines health as the proper functioning of all three components mentioned above. The definition of health care therefore must take into account the needs of people who have varying degrees of health conditions. This definition is called “accountable care.” According to this definition, health care encompasses three components: coordinated primary care, coordinated care, and referrals to care. A health system that effectively coordinates the delivery of care and makes all of these elements work together is considered to be “coordinated.”
An example of an “accountable care” system that is most often used in the United States is Medicare. Medicare is a compromise between what could be called comprehensive health care and the limited resources available to U.S. seniors. Medicare Part A, the guaranteed issue of Medicare, and Part B, the premium payments required to ensure coverage, are two different parts of the Medicare health care system. Part D is the Medicare prescription drug benefit, designed to fill the remaining holes left by Medicare Part A.
Although there is considerable debate over which diseases and illnesses are chronic or systemic, there is agreement that there are four common pathogens that cause most acute illnesses and most cause fatal or debilitating conditions. They are influenza, measles, chicken pox, and scoliosis. Of the four, only measles is a disease that does not involve a known cure. Scoliosis is caused by a spine disorder, not by a physical deformity, and is therefore categorized separately from other spinal disorders.