[…] Although I’m a bit perplexed by the $99,000 median household income figure cited in the Rand study, I think that the gist of the study – basically the fact that health care is eating up a huge portion of family and government income in America – is important for people to understand. We can’t tackle a problem without first knowing what the problem is. And one of the obstacles in the way of curtailing health care costs in the US is that our current system is so convoluted and complex that it’s nearly impossible to see all the areas where health care spending is impacting us – at the federal, state, and household levels.
health care costs
Welcome to Grand Rounds! It’s the third time we’ve hosted Grand Rounds at the Colorado Health Insurance Insider and we’re honored to be hosting again. It was a pleasure to read so many great articles for this edition. Since our blog tends to focus on health care policy and reform, I’m starting things off with the posts that pertain to that topic. Enjoy!
[…] The Dartmouth study results might seem counter-intuitive, since we often assume that as long as people are getting regular care by a PCP, they will be more able to avoid expensive hospitalizations. That appears to be true, but the lower cost office visits and outpatient treatments add up faster than one might expect, and would actually exceed the cost of the hospitalizations that they would prevent. […]
[…] A new report from HHS paints a pretty bleak picture of the ability of uninsured Americans to pay for their own medical care. Looking at all uninsured families in the US, the median amount of savings is $20 (the study considered only assets that could be easily liquidated: bank accounts, stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, CDs, money market accounts, and mutual funds). That won’t go far when it comes to paying for a hospital bill. Even uninsured families at the high end of the asset scale had an average of less than $13,000 in financial assets. […]
[…] The study’s authors note that implementing mandatory health insurance rules is not likely to result in a significant decline in the number of medical bankruptcies nationwide unless we also focus on improving the level of coverage that people have (to reduce out of pocket exposure), and on expanding access to disability insurance that can help provide income to people who are unable to work because of a major illness or injury. […]
The New America Foundation (NAF) and the University of Denver’s Center for Colorado’s Economic Future recently published a new study in conjunction with The Colorado Trust and The Colorado Health Foundation. The study was designed to look at the projected economic outcomes for the state of Colorado with and without health care reform. For the reform scenario, the researchers concentrated on the recommendations created by the Colorado Blue Ribbon Commission (208 Commission) a few years ago. They compared that data with the projected outcomes if we do nothing and simply maintain the current system with regards to health care. […]
[…] We seem to be caught up in a wave of screening test excitement lately, with new advanced testing available for every disease under the sun. Rather than focusing on things that can truly prevent health problems (the old, and decidedly low-tech diet and exercise ideas…), we are fixated on developing newer and better screening tests. This exacerbates the problem of over-consumption of health care and rising health care costs.
[…] We cannot continue to tackle the health care mess by focusing on health insurance reform. That has been a large part of the focus of debate over the last couple years, mainly because health insurance is the point at which most people interact with the financial aspects of their health care. But health care costs are what drive health insurance premiums, and there’s no getting around that. It’s refreshing to hear the President of the Colorado Medical Society talking about the need for evidence-based medicine and a general scaling back of what we spend on health care. […]
[…] But is having to wait to see a specialist for a non-emergency situation really that much of a drawback, when we consider that this sort of “rationing” might be what we need to bring our healthcare costs down to a reasonable level (and thus make healthcare more available to more Americans)? Maybe we don’t need MRI machines to be as conveniently-located as ATMs… Our current costs (and the rate at which they are increasing) aren’t really sustainable long-term, and the Healthcare Technology News article is a good reminder of how we stack up against the rest of the world.
[…] But Amy’s story is particularly important when we look at end-of-life scenarios, where doctors and hospitals will often take the approach of sustaining life at all costs, simply because it’s what we’re used to. I’m not advocating the rationing of health care in people who are terminally ill; patients should be given choices regardless of their prognosis. But honest discussions about end-of-life care and a genuine focus on quality of life might help to not only make life better for patients facing terminal illnesses, they could also result in lower health care costs.
Health care costs are rising at a dizzying pace. For most Americans, this translates into increasing health insurance premiums, which are driven mostly by the cost of health care. Getting health care costs under control is a necessary step, and one that politicians generally say is important. But what is said and what is done are not always in line with each other. This outstanding article on Emergency Physicians Monthly is a perfect example of health care costs run amok. […]
[…] People in the US pay a significantly larger chunk of their income for health care (either through health insurance premiums, or directly to providers) than people in other countries. […] Until we can get our health care costs in line with what other developed countries spend, health insurance premiums will continue to be a financial stretch for many families, and cost will continue to be a barrier standing in the way of health care access for a large number of Americans.
[…] even if we redistributed income and expenses completely, so that every household in American earned exactly $50,000/year and spent exactly $15,000 on health care, we’d still be struggling to pay for health care (only in that scenario, we’d ALL be struggling, rather than the way it is now, with some families crushed completely by health care expenses, and others unaware of how much their health care costs in the first place).