The healthcare system refers to all the different kinds of providers, facilities, and payers involved in delivering medical care. Providers are people or organizations that provide health care, including doctors, nurses, clinics, and agencies. Facilities are places where care is delivered or administered, including hospitals, long-term care facilities or nursing homes and treatment centers. Payers are people or organizations paying for healthcare services. These include insurance companies, government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and the individual patients or clients. Together, all these people, places, and organizations make up our healthcare system.
When you need health care you probably go to a doctor’s office, a clinic, or an emergency room. Most of the time, you will be seen and treated by a physician (MD), a registered nurse (RN), a certified nurse practitioner (CNP), or a physician’s assistant (PA). If you need further care or treatment, it may be provided by a specialist (MD), a physical therapist (PT), speech therapist (ST), or another kind of healthcare worker.
People who need continuing care may spend time in a hospital, rehabilitation center, or a nursing home. Some people who need continuing care will be cared for in their homes by a home health aide (HHA) or other home care professional.