The U.S. currently spends more on its health care services than any other country. However, the burden of increasing health care costs among average Americans is expected to grow faster than the national economy in coming years.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, for the first time, the U.S. health care costs are likely to surpass $10,000 per person. This report was published online by the journal Health Affairs.
Last year’s statistics from a joint survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The New York Times, revealed that almost 20% of the Americans face problems when it comes to paying their medical bills. Around 63% give up on their savings either partially or fully, whereas 75% cut down on their essential supplies such as food, clothing and other necessities, in order to meet their medical expenses. In some circumstances, health care insurance policies do more harm than good; for many others, health care costs have even led to bankruptcy.
As the medical expenditures continue to rise, we take a look at the key factors that can contribute to health care costs:
- Inefficient Medical System and Medical Providers: Including Medicare, most insurers provide a fee-for-service system to doctors, health care providers, hospitals and other medical facilities by reimbursing for every treatment, procedure or visit. When paired with a disintegrated medical system, it leads to over-treatment and repetitive tests, which gets accounted as health care costs.
- Majority of Unhealthy Population: A good majority of American population are either obese or overweight. This has led to inflation of several health issues including diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other chronic health conditions. Treatment and management of lifestyle-related health problems and other chronic illnesses have further accelerated healthcare costs.
- Expensive Medical Treatments, Technology and Drugs: With rise in lifestyle and chronic health issues, the demand for advanced medical care has also increased. Most doctors and patients demand for newest medical treatments, and use of innovative technologies that are often expensive. Moreover, medical advancements over the years, have paved the way for expensive patented drugs that were once generic, inexpensive and easily affordable by an average consumer.
- Consumer’s Lack of Information: More often than not, people who are insured through their job, are ignorant towards their medical treatments and its relative costs. With very little information about any treatment and even for its slightest chance of success, people tend to make uninformed choices about their health care treatments, creating unnecessary hike in medical expenditure and their coverage.
Other reasons for rising health care costs include employer-sponsored health insurance policies, increasing insurer competition and uneven health insurance coverage- some are medically uninsured, while those insured tend to overuse it.
Although, the health care expenses are currently at its peak, there are many ways to control unnecessary health care costs: by adopting healthy and conscious lifestyle to control the inflation of chronic diseases; making well informed choices, and considering cost-effective techniques when opting for any medical care services in future.