Healthcare costs have been increasing in the last few years, with some families spending more than $13,000 annually on this expense. Some notable issues people are complaining about are higher out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles, and insurance premiums. This issue is complex and multifaceted because it is influenced by many factors, many having to do with the healthcare industry itself and the government. Although the cases of this increase can be universal, here are the ones specifically impacting the United States.
The Aging Population
Scientific advancements, better nutrition, and people understanding how to care for themselves better have led to the average American living longer than they did a few decades ago. This means there is an increase in the number of older people in the country. As we age, we become more likely to suffer from various conditions and illnesses, thereby requiring advanced or constant healthcare services.
These procedures and interventions are often more expensive, and healthcare facilities can bill them to the insurance companies or the patients. When they bill the former, they increase their premiums to balance everything out, and people end up paying more for the same services.
The aging population also puts a lot of strain on the healthcare system in other ways, and the industry now requires professionals to understand its economic impact. This is part of health economics which also explores how medical and healthcare resources are allocated to ensure cost-effective services and the best patient outcomes.
Increase in the Cost of Medication
Medication has also become more expensive, with experts pointing to diabetes and insulin medication as two examples of where this is happening. Since medication makes up a bulk of treatment costs, it disproportionately affects healthcare costs, leading to patients paying more. This situation can become more dire if they require these treatments for the long term in the case of chronic illnesses.
Medication Innovations and Technological Advancements
Advancements in technology, medications, and treatments often come with a cost. All these are costly to develop, manufacture, test, and implement. Manufacturers typically pass these costs down to patients because they do not want to be left holding the check,
Patients end up paying more out-of-pocket, and insurance companies increase their premiums due to higher bills from hospitals, increasing costs across the board.
Defensive Medicine and Fear of Lawsuits
People have become more litigious in recent years, with the increase in malpractice lawsuits and claims being evidence of this. Doctors do not want to deal with these issues, so they practice defensive medicine. This is a practice where they order unnecessary tests and procedures and prescribe everything they can to cover all their bases and reduce their legal risks and liabilities.
Two things happen in these situations. First, doctors pay more for malpractice insurance to cover any potential settlements. Second, these additional tests and medications cost extra, and the patient has to pay for them directly or through their insurance.
Increasing healthcare costs are becoming a concern for many people, especially those being priced out of getting the healthcare or insurance they need. It will take a thorough examination of the healthcare system and overhauls in key areas to keep costs reasonable and affordable for everyone, especially those who need these services the most.