Tuesday, July 17, 2018

More on health care costs

This is Joseph.

As projections go, this one is shocking:
Medical services are expensive. There is no getting around it. The average family health insurance premium in the US is approaching $20,000. By one estimate, average family premiums could rise to 100 percent of US median household income by 2033 if trends continue.
Even now, the median family income in the United States is fifty-nine thousand dollars, which means health costs are starting to dominate expenses.  In parallel with the cost of housing (which is growing faster then wages right now), it is pretty clear that either wages need to go up soon or we need to find a method to control costs. 

One feature of health care costs that is odd is the presence of different costs for different customers (off the street versus negotiated insurance costs versus medicare/medicaid rates) and a complete lack of pricing transparency.  It is difficult to save up for medical procedures when you don't know the actual price and it is common for bills to be a surprise

Obviously, consistent and transparent prices are going to be needed in order to utilize market forces, as is competition.  I think that it isn't a surprise that centrally planned health care systems have proved quite a popular solution to this problem. 

Which doesn't mean that is the way to go.  But if we are going to find a way forward then we need to find a way to contain costs.  I see this as the central question of health policy at the moment. 

1 comment:

  1. One reads of happenings like the one in the link "common for bills to be a surprise" and can only shake one's head in bemusement.

    I needed a very minor "in office" bit of surgery by an ophthalmologist last summer. I walked into her office, handed over my Ontario medical card to a clerk, had the procedure, check with the clerk to confirm everything was okay and walked out.

    Total out-of-pocket expenses == zero dollars and cents.

    And the Ontario program is not all that great compared to some European ones.