Regardless of one’s opinions of the Affordable Care Act or other options for healthcare reform, one thing we are all aware of is the seemingly constant rise in health care costs across America. Due to high student loan debt for doctors, malpractice insurance companies that price gouge their insured doctors, and patent protections of drugs and technologies, patients pay more and more each year. In medical malpractice cases, this means that not only do patients wind up paying more, but those whose carelessness hurts patients also wind up paying more to cover the costs of past and future medical expenses.
Growth Rate of Healthcare Costs is Going to Increase:
Now, however, the New York Times reports that consumers will be spending more on healthcare than ever before. The reason? Those who put off medical treatment during the economic downturn are finally seeking the care they put off for all those years. This information comes from a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers’s Health Research Institute, which predicts that medical costs will grow at a rate of 6.8% over all in 2015, compared to a rate of 6.5% in 2014.
This rate of increase was common before the economic downturn, but the growth of costs slowed while the nation’s economic troubles were ongoing. That is not to say that costs dropped during that period-only that they increased at a slower rate than normal.
The Washington Post reports that these numbers are based on interviews with healthcare industry executives, policy experts, and health plan actuaries. In addition to the improving economy leading to more people seeking medical care they put off, there are three other contributing factors:
-A growth in specialty drugs -A growing trend of hospitals employing physicians directly -Health systems’ investment in information technology, especially as large-scale consolidation takes place in the industry.
Factors are Limiting the Growth of Healthcare Costs:
The Washington Post also points out certain trends that are keeping costs from increasing at an even higher rate. These include:
-A greater focus on efficiency in healthcare -A growth in high-deductible plans creating a different kind of health care shopper -An expansion of payment models that give doctors incentives for keeping spending down.
How this rise in health care cost growth will affect insurance premiums is yet to be determined. The agency that conducted this survey also conducted a separate survey of employers. That survey found that a stunning majority-eighty-five percent-of employers have increased how much their workers pay for their care or are considering such increases. Additionally, there is a growth in employers pushing employees into high-deductible plans, which force the insured to shoulder the burden of a lot of typical health care ,and only kick in when health care costs become quite high.
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