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Find Out How to Decrease US Healthcare Expenditure
Article, Health Policy

Find Out How to Decrease US Healthcare Expenditure

As covered in the previous two articles written by myself the cost of healthcare within the US is soaring at an uncontrolled rate.

Citizens are having to forego necessities just to afford what is provided for free in other countries.

Yet as explained previously, the future for the healthcare system appears bleak, with prices rising year over year it seems an almost impossible task to reduce the overall expenditure of US healthcare.

Throughout this article, I will attempt to show you some ways that US healthcare may be brought back from the brink of destruction.

Burning Money

Despite spending the most on health care, Americans have poorer health outcomes than their international counterparts.

The U.S. has the highest rate of preventable deaths (from diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers), these are easily preventable with timely access to effective and quality healthcare. Compared with Switzerland, France, Norway, and Australia, the U.S. rate was twice as high

There are countless examples in the previous articles covering the many ways US Healthcare expenditure is rolling away from them at an alarming rate.

So let’s look at just one more example, dental prices.

Analyzing the U.S. rising cost of health care in the 21 century it is impossible not to see that the increase of dental prices exceeds significantly the growth of prices for many other medical services.

Regular preventive dental care is essential for good oral health, but many persons don’t get the care they need.

More people are unable to afford dental care than other types of health care.

The research shows that more than 100 million Americans don’t attend dentists because they can’t afford it.

Such a situation with dental health is inadmissible. The above material raises doubt about the statements of many politicians that the U.S. healthcare system is the best in the world.

Public and private healthcare in the U.S.

Private medicine in the U.S. is frankly too expensive.

Existing channels for physicians to maximize their profits create a temptation for fraud, and insurance companies will not fight against it because their profit is a result of “productive cooperation.”

Presently it is unrealistic to expect from the government any substantial decrease in private healthcare costs; health insurance companies give healthy donations to both political parties which as we know in America, money can change peoples opinions pretty easily.

Parallel with private medicine there exists also two government-sponsored health insurance programs established in 1965: Medicare that provides health coverage for people who are 65 or older and also for certain younger people with disabilities; Medicaid provides health coverage for people with a very low income.

Funding for Medicare is done through payroll taxes and premiums paid by recipients. Medicaid is funded by the federal government and each state.

These programs are devouring more and more money from the government. They already cost now about one trillion per year.

Furthermore, the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a step to creating a universal health system in the United States.

Government subsidies enabled to reduce the number of uninsured Americans by 20 million. However, the health insurance premiums for many Americans increased.

So how do we lower the cost?

Without any doubt, all citizens of such a powerful and prosperous country as the United States should have affordable healthcare (right up to a universal, free of charge for all services, healthcare system).

However, it is also obvious that the modification of the U.S. current health system would require a significant amount of money that the government simply lacks.

It was clear not only to economists but to any educated person based on common sense.

Since the health system contributes significantly to the country’s debt, the solution to the healthcare problem should start with the admissible amount of money that can be now allocated for healthcare.

After this cost is established, policies and other variants of their realization can be discussed.

Sadly, politicians first develop policies and then ask an organization to estimate costs in 10–20 years.

Such future estimates are unreliable and misleading; in addition, they ignore the fact that under a proper economic policy in the future more money can be allocated and the health system can be improved.

Any healthcare program and related healthcare system depend upon the available funds to support it.

It is easy to declare “Medicare-for-all.”

But is it possible to realize?

Unfortunately, politicians ignore such questions.

They do not understand or do not want to understand that healthcare costs are a substantial part of government expenditures.

As indicated earlier, total health expenditure per capita in the U.S. is the highest in the world; any repair costs money, It would therefore be unwise for the country with a high debt to make drastic changes in its healthcare system. 

Two-Pronged Attack

The two obvious ways to decrease healthcare prices (this would increase the number of insured persons) are: reduce liability costs and reduce doctors’ salaries.

Reduce Liability Costs

Lower liability insurance costs can reduce healthcare prices.

However, they depend on medical malpractice awards, which are different in various states.

Proper legislation concerning malpractice claims could be the first important step to decrease healthcare prices.

Now only some states have passed laws that place limitations on the amount of money that can be awarded in a successful medical malpractice lawsuit.

As indicated earlier, in their attempts to increase profits some insurances, having no healthcare experts, use subcontractors.

To protect doctors and other medical workers from financial damages, liability coverage for healthcare professionals should be underwritten by insurance companies specializing in healthcare.

Reduce Doctors Salaries

Furthermore not every doctor wishes to run own business understanding the related additional load and liability; many doctors prefer to work for a smaller amount of money.

Using public universities, states can develop programs aimed at preparing future doctors to work in managed care cooperatives (or more than one, depending on the amount of investment available) without tuition fees.

Such a market approach should decrease healthcare prices in the private sector, and this can be a road to extend it in the future. 

Politicians like to talk about healthcare of equal quality for all populations.

Unfortunately, this had never been in the past, and it is unrealistically to expect in the future.

Now overly privileged people, members of the U.S. Congress, and federal government employees have better health insurance than many retirees.

Not all doctors accept patients with Medicare or Medicaid, since these insurances are not good sources of revenue.

That is why the ideas discussed above could become a very strong avenue the government should focus on.

The young in particular don’t always need the best physicians to treat them, and they can wait a week for an appointment.

If the country has 8.8 percent of people without health insurance coverage and the insurance prices are high, the compromised approach is more realistic than the empty proposals of politicians.

When a country has a national debt amounting to 28 trillion dollars, more than its GDP, and when its healthcare expenditures represent nearly 18 percent of its GDP, it cannot spend any more on healthcare. 

A tricky idea

According to the above analysis of the U.S. healthcare system, because of a huge current national debt, it is not unrealistic to expect that a universal single-payer healthcare system can be successfully implemented in the U.S.

Moreover, such a system would not even be the best solution. The most efficient health system should contain both public and private sectors.

This two-pronged attack would, in theory, allow healthcare expenditure to drop dramatically, something that the US government desperately needs before it is too late.  

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