Health care issues affect every American, but exactly what is health care? Health care involves the diagnosis, medical treatment, medication and prevention of illness, injury, disease as well as physical and mental impairments.
As the American population is growing, living longer and being treated for more medical needs, the national health care system has and will continue to be a source of great discussion. While the politics surrounding the subject of national health can be heated, it’s important to have a working knowledge of health care costs and how they affect you and your family.
Below are three of the most important contributing factors to the increase in health care costs:
- Chronic Illnesses – Americans are living longer, which is great news. However, the health care system is taxed trying to cover the number of chronic illnesses that come with a generation that is living longer than those before it. Health care experts estimate that chronic disease treatment costs with take up 75% of national health expenditures. This figure takes into the account that Americans tend to be overweight and that obesity has become a contributing factor to chronic illnesses and health care spending.
- Support Services – Two of the major contributors to health care costs is prescription drugs and new medical technologies. State-of-the-art medical technologies and better-than-ever prescription drugs come with a hefty price tag.
- Administrative Costs – The cost of running government health care program and private insurance has gone up. This includes expensive overhead such as administrative costs, taxes, regulations, insurances, reserves and profits/losses.
In the last 30 years, health care costs have increased tenfold to nearly $2.6 trillion in 2010. In the future, the number is only expected to increase despite the ongoing recession and policies.
Over the last decade, employer-sponsored health coverage for families has skyrocketed. Premiums have gone up 97%, and this adds more financial burden on employers and their employees. Medicare (insurance coverage for the elderly and those with disabilities) and Medicaid (coverage for low-income families) enrollment has increased significantly meaning that government spending has proportionally increased. Naturally, this strains the budgets of local and national budgets.
The U.S. government has worked to address these increasing costs by implementing a national health care plan. Love or hate it, Obama Care claims to make insurance available for every citizen who needs to affordable access treatment and medications.
While there may be some shuffling around for citizens, insurance companies, government agencies and health care providers, this program is “expected” to have a long-term effect on lowering the nation’s health care costs. In addition, the plan includes greater government oversight as well as regulation of insurance premiums. Payments are “expected” to lower for treatments and hospitalization.
What is health care without funding for research programs? Of course, this will continue to be provided; further presenting health care strategies that will lead to better prevention, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. In addition, health care cost control is expected to affect the health IT, taxable health insurance and out of pocket costs.
The hope is that quality of health and treatment efficiency will continue to improve without further burdening the government, time will tell.