Americans spend a huge amount on health care every year, and the cost continues to rise. In part, this increase is due to government policy and the initiation of national programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Today, all it takes is a surprise medical bill to send a patient into bankruptcy. So, what exactly makes healthcare in the U.
S. so expensive? Health insurance prices? Government regulation or lack thereof? The pharmaceutical industry? TMRW spoke to experts about different aspects of the health care system, who pointed out five general reasons. The most prominent reason is that U. health care is based on a for-profit insurance system, one of the only in the world, according to Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog, who advocates reform in the health insurance market.
On the contrary, many other countries have some element of something private, but there is a basic understanding that health care is a right, not a privilege, Balber said. The underlying motive for making money has a domino effect that increases prices, he continued. For example, insurance companies spend a tremendous amount of money on utilization review, the process that determines if a medical service is covered by a particular plan, adding that the goal is not to pay consumers for the care they thought they were insured for. In the same way, the lack of universal health care, in which everyone is guaranteed access without suffering financial hardship, as pointed out by Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, is another reason for the high costs. Health care exists in a system where patients are charged based on the services they receive, yet another reason why almost everything is more expensive here, Dr.
Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist and professor of health policy at Yale School of Medicine, told TMRW. As a result, there is less use of primary care, Benjamin said, because the pay-per-service model encourages overuse. Balber argued that pay-for-service creates a perverse incentive to provide more procedures, rather than helping patients be healthier, so that the nation as a whole needs fewer procedures. Benjamin also spends less than other countries on social support systems and long-term care. For example, a recent study found that private insurance companies paid almost two and a half times what Medicare would have paid for the same medical service at the same facility. To make things more expensive, the United States does not regulate what most healthcare companies can charge for their services, whether it's insurance, medication or care itself.
The health system itself may be fragmented; in many parts of the country there are only one or two companies that provide health insurance or health care. This means that again there is little or no incentive for them to reduce costs as patients don't have many options. In addition healthcare providers are paid on average much more in the U. than in other countries both Benjamin and Krumholz highlighted. The price of health care is the most important factor behind U.
health care costs accounting for 90% of spending. These costs reflect the cost of care for people with chronic or long-term illnesses; the ageing of the population; and the rising cost of new drugs procedures and technologies. In addition; the health care reform law has expanded access to insurance to millions of Americans. We have transitioned to a health care system where everyone can get health insurance regardless of age or health status; and many people who are newly insured need ongoing medical care. We can all play a role in helping America become healthier and reduce health care costs; our healthcare system must focus more on quality care for patients that helps them to be healthy faster and stay healthy longer. In the meantime everyone can reduce the risk of developing many costly chronic diseases by adopting healthier lifestyles.
Prescription drugs play a critical role in helping prevent control and cure various conditions and diseases; but costs are putting pressure on budgets of families businesses and taxpayers alike. Chronic disease treatment accounts for 86 percent of U. healthcare spending; chronic diseases and conditions such as arthritis obesity cancer and heart disease are among the most common costly and often preventable health problems. Americans' unhealthy lifestyle choices linked to costly chronic conditions; retail clinics are becoming increasingly popular with employer-insured consumers seeking convenient low-cost care; however use by Americans with individual plans remains low. Reuters cancer drug prices rise much faster than inflation; The Washington Post US drug spending will grow faster than other healthcare services over next decade; providing key information and trends that support quality affordable healthcare for all Americans. We have identified four strategies that are critical to improving U. healthcare system and ensure every patient receives high quality medical care.