America is facing a major crisis as health care costs continue to soar. Even if President Obama’s health care reform does turn things around, it’s going to take years for all of the benefits to take hold of the nation fully. Shannon Pettypiece’s article on BusinessWeek’s website talks about a recent survey of 800 people by New York based Hill & Knowlton Strategies which was released at the Bloomberg Healthcare Innovations Conference in New York. The results are indicative of an upsetting trend which could make health care costs even higher over time.
In a nutshell, medical costs were the most important factor in making health decisions for about 27% of survey respondents, even outweighing their doctor’s advice. That means that one out of every three Americans are putting off going to the doctor for medical treatment or check-ups because of the cost of health care. This is a disturbing statistic since lack of regular medical care can end up making people sicker (and more expensive) then they would be if they saw the doctor when they were advised to.
Health insurance premiums have increased over 97% since 2002 and families are paying more than ever towards employee-sponsored health plans. They are contributing about $4300 per year according to the report from the Commonwealth Fund. Interestingly enough, most Americans still said they aren’t willing to cut back their health insurance options to save money and many don’t want companies to scale back on innovation to keep health care costs from increasing.
Based on survey results, about 45% of respondents said they are worried about the bills in the case of a catastrophic event while 36% said they are very concerned with paying for health insurance in general. Over half of Americans believe that the biggest problem facing our health care system is cost, and this definitely seems to be the case with such an outrageous inflation on just health care. It’s scary to think where the health care system will be in the coming decades if costs continue to rise at this rate.
Most people surveyed are not interested in access to the latest medical treatments. They would prefer to see companies focus on more innovative ways to cut costs than focus on new treatments or cures for disease. It’s truly unfortunate that Americans have to consider this choice. There should be a way to keep investigating ways to improve the medical community while keeping costs modest. There are so many factors in play when it comes to health care and the Affordable Care Act cannot possibly fix all of the problems. Time will tell if it fixes any at all.
Written by Sam Tabes
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Tags: affordable health insurance, health care, health care costs, health insurance companies