Healthcare costs and spending

Healthcare spending in the US has been steadily rising over the years, which leads us to wonder what’s going on.

The National Health Expenditure Accounts (NHEA) are the official estimates of total health care spending in the United States. … U.S. health care spending grew 5.8 percent in 2015, reaching $3.2 trillion or $9,990 per person. As a share of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for 17.8 percent.

As healthcare spending in the US is rising and taking up a larger share of the US GDP, what’s going on exactly. Why is healthcare spending rising? Are we spending on new treatments  that are more costly? Maybe regular treatments are actually increasing in costs. Possibly more and more Americans are getting sicker by the day? As spending goes up, we need to question it and see how we can go about combating all of this and not let it run loose.

I think that all of those are possibly related to the cause of our spending consistently growing over the years. Here are some quick ideas:

  1. Inefficient organizations
    1. Wasteful processes can slow things down and really increase costs. This can include simple things like paperwork. I remember when I went to see a doctor in a clinic, I had to go get a form from one doctor, bring it to another doctor for a signature, and then go back to the first doctor to finally see me. And what if the clinic loses the paperwork? We have to do it all over again and it just wastes time and money. I’m rooting for the EMR trend and really hope that some good ones will help hospitals, clinics, etc become more organized. It helps the patients, doctors, and the organizations themselves.
  2. Drug costs
    1. Don’t even get me started on this one. In a free market for some reason competition in the drug arena doesn’t work. It’s ridiculous that in a country where a ton of these drugs are made they’re more costly for us than they are for people in other countries. I’m a fan of business and making money, but we need to focus more on helping people and limiting our greed. Let’s either decrease the number of years that drugs are protected by patents or simply just allow Americans to buy drugs from other countries like Canada or Mexico, or even Cuba!
  3. Insurance Costs
    1. I’ve taken a look at the financials of some of these Insurance companies and let’s just say making money isn’t really a problem for them. The reality is that millions need insurance and they are very good at the numbers game. They are really a math and risk company. They know the numbers so well that they will charge you accordingly for your health costs but the reality is that the chances of you needing it is so low which allows them to make money. They keep their risk low while charging you a ton for it. I think we all need insurance, they just really need to give the patients more bang for their buck.
  4. Fee for Service
    1. This idea worked great for a while, and a while I mean forever, but it can’t keep up. Doctors and hospitals at the foundation want the best for the patient and want to be able to see as many patients as possible. Though there’s also been work done to see that some doctors are stressed by finances through the years of schooling and are finding ways to help those costs. One way is to charge for services. Getting an extra test or two might not be needed, but it helps when you get paid from the insurance company. The industry is heading into the value based care plan, which would pay providers based on overall care for certain illnesses. If it’s a common cold, they’ll pay for simply taking care of it, whether it takes 3 visits or only a 3 minute visit with a prescription for cold medicine. So it gives doctors the incentive to take care of the patient with as little resources as possible, which is good for the doctor, patient, insurance, etc.