Current predictions are that health care costs could rise by at least 10% in 2007, further straining an already stretched market. The part of the article that I found most interesting was that studies show that Americans spent about the same portion of their annual budget – 6% – on health care in 1960 that they spent in 2004. This means that the bulk of the increasing cost of health care has been born by insurers and the government, as most Americans get their health coverage from one of these sources.
There is an indication that some of this is soon to change, with employers in Colorado and the rest of the country shifting more of the cost of health care onto employees. Obviously, many people will complain loudly about this trend, as it’s never fun to see more of your paycheck disappearing each month. But I think that it will be a wake-up call to a lot of people who need to re-examine their use (and overuse?) of health care and what they expect their health insurance to do for them. We’ve become a nation of pill-poppers who turn to the nearest doctor – one with a prescription pad in hand, of course – at the slightest discomfort. We can’t sleep, we’re anxious, we’re overweight, we’ve got headaches and colds and all sorts of other ailments, many of which are caused by the lifestyles we’ve chosen to lead.
Perhaps if we have to pay more every time we see a doctor or fill a prescription, we might think about going for walks, taking naps, drinking more water, and eating more veggies instead of looking for a ‘treatment’ for everything that ails us. Perhaps as people find themselves paying more for their health insurance, they may begin to opt for more no-frills policies like an HSA and use their health insurance less. And then maybe the cost of health care might stop rising at double-digit rates?