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Health Insurance in America

health insurance crisis in America represented by a spade in the ground

Time to Call a Spade

[kc_heading_pac_18_background_1 size=”50″ color=”#ffffff” ]a Spade[/kc_heading_pac_18_background_1]

Monday, May 20, 2019

Health insurance in America won’t get any cheaper due to healthcare reform, or Obamacare as it’s come to be known.

Premiums may increase even faster, as they did initially in Massachusetts – the only state with a prototype for healthcare reform.

Yet many American consumers mistakenly believe that Obamacare will reduce healthcare spending in America.

This is incorrect. Not even it’s staunchest supporters have maintained this, especially once its strongest measures with the greatest potential to curb costs were removed, delayed or diluted enough to render them incapable of having a significant impact on healthcare spending in the next decade.

The most we can reasonably expect until then is somewhat slower INCREASES in medical costs compared to what they’d be without healthcare reform.

The moderation in the growth in health insurance premiums seen over the last couple of years isn’t due to Obamacare, which hasn’t taken effect yet in ways that would slow insurance premiums. It’s due instead to a sluggish economy and fewer jobs with health insurance coverage.

And to the extent Obamacare is able to favorably impact healthcare costs, this may not be reflected in our health insurance premiums for many years to come despite its requirement that 80-85% of premiums be allocated to actual healthcare costs rather than administrative costs and profits.

Understating the Problem

Part of the reason for this unrealistic expectation for Obamacare is outdated language that’s still applied to our healthcare crisis that keeps consumers complacent about their healthcare costs.

Terms like “unnecessary” (as in the unnecessary care that costs us over a trillion dollars a year) and “unsustainable” (as in we can’t keep spending for our healthcare as we do now) have lost all meaning.

They also fail to convey the urgency of the situation – an urgency that’s amply documented in Our Healthcare Sucks.Healthcare costs in America equal mortgage payments seen in image of man with house on his back

Americans are already struggling to meet their monthly health insurance premiums – and every indication is they can expect it to get much worse.

Overall healthcare costs are expected to double over the next decade or so.

Aggressive cost-shifting to employees and self-insured consumers, however, means they’re more likely to TRIPLE for many consumers – including both health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical costs (see “Health Insurance or Self-Insurance?“).

That’s like adding another two rental or mortgage payments every month.

Somehow “unnecessary” and “unsustainable” just don’t cut it when facing such dire – and realistic – prospects.

Can You Say “Crisis”?

We need new language to capture the true extent and urgency of this financial Hindenburg looming over every American’s fiscal future.

I propose the following:

  • Let’s replace “unnecessary” with “dangerous”- it’s far more reflective of the true nature of of the so-called “unnecessary” medical care estimated to be responsible for 1/3 to 1/2 our medical spending.

Medical errors endanger lives with image of man hanging from cliffMore Americans die every week from medical mistakes than died on 9/11. Every week.

That sounds pretty damn dangerous to me.

  • I also propose replacing “unsustainable” with “bankrupting” – again more reflective of our reality.

Medical bills already account for over 60% of personal bankruptcies in America – and 3 out of 4 of those already had health insurance.

Healthcare reform – for all its noble intent – is unlikely to substantially slow health insurance premium increases by itself. Moreover, with another 30 million insured Americans and little increase in the supply of doctors and other providers to serve them, it’s likely to  reduce access to primary care that might help stem these medical excesses.

This was the exact experience with health insurance premiums in Massachusetts with its prototype for health reform – even with the recent curtailing of spending growth there.

This isn’t political ideology;  it’s fact.

It’s time we stopped confusing ideology – of either extreme – with the facts of our situation. And  using more accurate terminology may help us to do so.

And “dangerous” and “bankrupting” are far more accurate and descriptive of America’s healthcare crisis than “unnecessary” and “unsustainable” – words that have come to confuse rather than inform.

If we ever hope to get a handle on our medical mayhem in America, we need to start calling a spade a spade.

And a crisis a crisis.

[kc_background type=”1″]Add Your Own Thoughts – Comment Below[/kc_background]

This article is provided for informational and educational purposes only.
It does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied upon as such.

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10 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Donald Quixote
    December 11, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    Part of the crisis beyond the health insurance companies is the attitude of the hospitals themselves. This whole time hospitals have gotten away with charging a 150% margin on supplies they use on patients while the whole critique has been focused on the greedy insurance agencies. The problem is attributable to multiple parties similar to the financial crisis due to irresponsible lending we saw a few years ago.

    • John Lynch
      December 12, 2013 at 10:32 am #

      Right you are again, Donald. And the docs aren’t without blame either. Very little gets done in healthcare without doctors’ orders.

  2. Lloyd ProGroup
    October 30, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    If we look at the word “healthcare” it literally means caring for our health before we get sick.

    Here in the states we have “sickcare”.

    Not health care.

    Until people are taught how to eat healthy, get proper exercise and rest we will have this “healthcare” problem.

  3. MLIQ123
    August 29, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    The interesting thing is that the Affordable Care Act has been postponed for corporate compliance, and the first year’s penalty is negligible compared to paying health insurance premiums. Many people I know, particularly young adults, are simply putting off buying coverage for a year or two till penalties are steeper and require the purchase.

  4. Donald Quixote
    August 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Healthcare shouldn’t be so stressful, it’s too important to us to be a headache.

  5. DW
    August 25, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    In the 10 years that I have worked for my company and been a part of their management, I have seen healthcare costs do nothing but rise up, up, up and eat into the profit sharing we all work so desperately hard to obtain. I do not believe that Obamacare will solve our problem. It is something different, but it is full of many problems. Like you, I question the day when the average American will no longer be able to afford accurate and decent healthcare. Or when society reserves healthcare for only the wealthy and elite as our income gap continues to rise with time.

  6. Johnson
    May 5, 2013 at 5:08 am #

    Health Insurance is very important due to the high rate of hospital bills and some hidden charges by doctors.

    You have a nice post and very resourceful. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Donatus
    April 13, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    Health Insurance is very important due to the high rate of hospital bills and some hidden charges by doctors.

    You have a nice post. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Garg Ankit
    April 9, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    In today’s stressed economy, Americans have seen the cost of health insurance sky rocket. Many people that have been covered for years by health insurance with an employer do not understand the true cost of health care due to years of only paying a small percentage of the actual cost. But now the time has come. People should start understanding its importance.

  9. Jobs in Care
    December 28, 2012 at 6:11 am #

    Very deep insights on the present health care conditions in the U.S. Obamacare has greatly affected the health care industry, no doubt. But whatever the cost of health insurance, it’s very much necessary to have insurance.

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