In a recent poll conducted by Harvard School of Public Health, 14% of sick adults in Massachusetts were unable to get the healthcare they needed in the past year. Further, “more than 7 in 10 of those who said they could not get treatment cited financial reasons, saying they could not afford the out-of-pocket costs or their insurer refused to cover the test or treatment.” While the entire report can be viewed here, the results are not surprising.
Healthcare costs are growing uncontrollably, and the community is the one who is going to eventually lose out.
In the video below “Talking Health,” “Health Care: Cost vs. Income,” panelists discuss how the health reform law could reduce healthcare costs for multiple stakeholders including individuals, businesses, and providers. This is worth a watch.
And when we start to see outpatient healthcare costs grow over inpatient cost, we know the problem is only getting worse.
For many in the community, it is impossible to separate out the cost of receiving healthcare from the actual clinical encounter. If I am afraid as to how much it will cost me to go to my primary care physician, why would I place that as a high priority? When the community starts to avoid receiving healthcare, whether that be preventive services or acute, we know that many of these issues that could often be addressed before they became problematic will only get worse if unattended.
“U.S. spending on health care is very high and a source of great concern, but it is the growth rate of medical spending, not the level of spending, that ultimately determines our country’s financial well-being. If current trends persist, we will be spending an unsustainable 38% of our GDP on health care by 2075, as the growth rate of health care costs continues to outstrip the growth rate of the overall economy. In this environment, whether annual health care costs rise or fall by 1% or even 5% is irrelevant — all we do is move the day of reckoning less than 1 year closer or farther away. Clearly, the key to the long-term viability of our health care system is to lower the rate of cost growth, often referred to as ‘bending the cost curve.’”
Healthcare must become more affordable, and we must not be afraid to seek healthcare services because of their cost. But yet, more studies, surveys, and stories emerge where we see the public reacting to the challenges of being able to afford healthcare.
This must stop.
While addressing healthcare cost is nothing new, there has not been the political will to take this on until the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Politics has impacted healthcare substantially – and likely will continue to do so; again, all the more reasons for us to tell our story and be heard.
So is it too much to ask for our communities to have affordable healthcare? No.
Have you been financially impacted by healthcare? Have you seen ways communities have come together to address the affordability issue?
Let us know.