Each year the cost of health care increases. Insurance is skyrocketing. And the upward spiral of costs has left as many as one out of three Americans lacking health insurance. For those lacking insurance, or those who pay out of their own pocket, there are significant reasons to be worried. Insurance for health care is increasing at an ever faster rate. Partly because of demand, and partly because of supply.
In particular, the sheer limitations on highly skilled specialists all the way down to registered nurses has left hospitals competing for a work force that far too small to fulfill its needs. Additionally, hospitals have consolidated, becoming part of conglomerates through mergers and leveraged buyouts. The health care system as a whole is under every more scrutiny to cut costs, increase productivity, and ultimately increase profit.
The public system of health care, of which many American’s pay into, is unable to keep pace. Illegal immigrants and unlawful citizens are accused of abusing the system, working with one identity, and taking advantage of health care benefits with their true, or at least another identity. This has left many states, particularly in regions with high occurrences of poverty or immigration, unable to keep pace with spiraling health care insurance costs.
Each year, the states negotiate with the health care system to determine how much various services will cost. Unable to choose no treatments for qualified applicants, they are forced to succumb to the pressures of the medical industry. As a result, health care insurance for private sector individuals climbs higher and higher.
Why? Ultimately, state contracts for medical services cost less than private insurers. As a result, insurance companies and the uninsured are left to brunt the necessary costs to keep hospital’s bottom line high enough to please ever-hungry investors. How then as consumers are we to carry the costs of ever-increasing health care insurance ? By leveraging our needs into group packages.
Employers are able to get lower rates than individuals for health care insurance. This is partly because many employees can not afford to miss work, and insurers know that offering insurance to the employer’s will cost them fewer doctors visits than a privately insured individual. Additionally, the group as a whole will be healthier than many individuals who genuinely need insurance. While one may be sick, have pre-existing conditions, and use tobacco products, employer’s get group-rates, where there is a natural “curve” like on a test score.
Another way to get lower rates for an individual is to make health choices that decrease their reliance on medical care. Effectively combating pre-existing conditions such as tobacco use and obesity can often lower the private health care insurance rates for any individual. Also, locking in rates, although difficult, can be attained through a select few health insurance companies.
For some, who are unable to attain insurance because they make just barely too little or too much, an employer could be solicited for some adjustment in pay to make health care insurance more affordable.
Yet another way to decrease health care costs is very controversial. If it ever gains widespread acceptance, it could become a norm that would slam the breaks on the upward spiral of health insurance costs. In it, some experts have proposed and gotten the support of insurance companies. The general idea is to ship someone overseas, to other mature economies where the cost of routine operations is often far less. For example, a stomach staple surgery is not considered to be the most skilled operation procedure (but boy I sure don’t want someone to screw it up).
In India, a stomach staple package by internationally accredited doctors and a weeks stay in a 5 star hotel, along with complementary tickets to the Taj Mahal can be had for 5,000. Add in air-fare and you’re looking at up to 8,000. Prior to some legislative changes that banned this sort of procedure, this was an extremely viable alternative to having the surgery done within the United States. The same surgery in the US runs $20,000.
Only through out-sourcing, improving overall health, negotiating favorable terms, and regulation of the health care industry can an end be put to the uncontrolled spiral in health care insurance costs.