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Americans Increasingly Worried About How to Pay for Health Care

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Health care costs and the potential loss of health care coverage are weighing heavily on the minds of many Americans. Politicians, well aware of the problem, continue to debate the issue but cannot arrive at a solution. Meanwhile the situation continues to worsen along with the psyche of the American public.

Nearly half of those surveyed in a recent poll say they are worried about their ability to pay for health care in the future.

Recent polls and research show that:

  • Twenty-four percent said they feared losing health care coverage in the next year.
  • Nearly 25 percent said that they or a family member delayed seeing a doctor in the past year because of what it might cost.
  • 46 percent of those polled worried they would not be able to afford health care in the future.
  • In February, the government estimated that health care costs this year would average $8,160 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — an increase of $356 per person from 2008.
  • Surveys show that an overwhelming 86 percent of Americans believe health reform is an important part of addressing the nation’s economic crisis.

It's estimated that nearly 50 million Americans are uninsured.

Nationwide 15.7 percent of Americans were uninsured in 2005. I think it is safe to assume that this number has grown.

To put the cost problem in perspective, Americans spend more on health care than they do on food and housing. The United States spent approximately $2.2 trillion on health care in 2007, or $7,421 per person. This is twice the average cost of other developed nations.

In the 1970s the United States spent seven percent of GDP on health care. By 2004 this number had soared to 15.4 percent. A simple comparison of cost, as measured by percent of GDP, with Canada, England, and Germany indicates that costs in the United States are not being managed effectively.

 

 Source: the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services

A study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Research Institute found that more than half of the $2.2 trillion spent on health care was wasteful spending.

They identified several areas:

  • ineffective use of information technology ($81-$88 billion)
  • claims processing ($21-$210 billion)
  • defensive medicine ($210 billion)
  • Medical errors ($17 billion)
  • badly-managed diabetes ($22 billion)

The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care (the granddaddy of this industry) found that "the United States can extend coverage to the country’s uninsured without substantially increasing overall health care costs."

The information is contained in the white paper An Agenda for Change: Improving Quality and Curbing Health Care Spending: Opportunities for the Congress and the Obama Administration.

We know there is a problem and we have known it for decades. Why can't our elected officials look at all the evidence and come up with a solution?

One can only conclude that our leaders in Washington are unwilling to enact a solution that goes against the grain of their vested interests — contributions from health care and insurance companies that help insure their re-election. Many of us understand that this is the real problem.

The health care system needs to be overhauled using already existing productivity tools and efficiency methods. The Health Research Institute and Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care findings provide a framework for achieving effective, affordable health care for all citizens. It is time to get this accomplished.

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About Bob DeMarco

  • http://www.explore4less.com Ralph Jones

    Our nation’s health care system is going downhill day by day where as officials aren’t focussing enough on this vital issue and more and more people are suffering because of this, I think the government should concentrate on internal issues rather than external ones.

  • Bliffle

    All too true. We are gradually being overwhelmed by a healthcare insurance system that is unregulated, monopolistic, and out of control. It threatens to engulf the entire USA business community.

    Healthcare costs are at 18% of GDP and will go to 30% within a few years. The annual rate of cost increases 6%.

    What is to stop it from consuming 60%, then 100% of the US economy?

    On july 10, 2009 Bill Moyers Journal had an excellent interview with Wendell Potter, formerly a top exec with Cigna, about just how they go about excluding ‘clients’ from getting the healthcare for which they have already paid premiums.

    If you want to really be shocked you should look up “medical-cost ratio” with google to see runaway predation.

    Moyers journal

    July 10, 2009

    Last month, testimony in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation by a former health insurance insider named Wendell Potter made news even before it occurred: CBS NEWS headlined: “Cigna Whistleblower to Testify.” After Potter’s testimony the industry scrambled to do damage control: “Insurers defend rescissions, take heat for lack of transparency.”

    In his first television interview since leaving the health insurance industry, Wendell Potter tells Bill Moyers why he left his successful career as the head of Public Relations for CIGNA, one of the nation’s largest insurers, and decided to speak out against the industry. “I didn’t intend to [speak out], until it became really clear to me that the industry is resorting to the same tactics they’ve used over the years, and particularly back in the early ’90s, when they were leading the effort to kill the Clinton plan.”

    Moyers

    Assessing a “Public Option” for Health Care

    This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with Wendell Potter, a former health insurance executive who left the industry to become an advocate for health care reform. Potter discussed the industry’s history of denying care to members and its extensive efforts to prevent the federal government from creating a “public option” for health insurance to compete with private plans. Potter said:

    “The industry has always tried to make Americans think that government-run systems are the worst thing that could possibly happen to them, that if you even consider that you’re heading down the slippery slope towards socialism… I think that people who are strong advocates of our health care system remaining as it is, very much a free market health care system, fail to realize that we’re really talking about human beings here, and it doesn’t work as well as they would like it to… They are trying to make you worry and fear a government bureaucrat being between you and your doctor. What you have now is a corporate bureaucrat between you and your doctor… The public plan would do a lot to keep [health insurance companies] honest, because it would have to offer a standard benefit plan. It would have to operate more efficiently, as does the Medicare program. It would be structured, I’m certain, on a level playing field so that it wouldn’t [have an] unfair advantage [over] the private insurance companies. Because it could be administered more efficiently, the private insurers would have to operate more efficiently.”

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    The 2009 ”Health Fair” in Wise County, VA [or Remote Area Medical (RAM) Clinic, as we locals call it ] will be held on the weekend of July 25 – 27.

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  • Sylvester

    Who would ever imagine that 3 years later Supreme Court would deliberate if a public available to all is constitutional or not. With all the money being wasted around, this would be the best way to waste it, if you ask me.