When I was entering the workforce many years ago, the top financial concerns for most Americans, besides the daily cost of living, were retirement and helping to pay for kids’ college education. Most employers offered very affordable healthcare benefits that took the burden of worry off of many families.
Then greed swept through the healthcare system causing costs to skyrocket. Doctors found that they could get richer by overcharging insurance companies. We found a case of this overcharging involving a doctor treating our daughter for a work related injury. This doctor was giving cortisone injections into her neck and shoulder for her injury. Even though she was covered by workman’s compensation, we were inadvertently sent one of the bills the doctor submitted to workman’s comp. The doctor injected 10 cc of cortisone at one visit and then charged workman’s comp $1,690 for 10 injections of 1 cc each simply because he moved the needle with each cc. This continued 1 to 2 times a week for just over 5 months which means that doctor must have billed workman’s comp for more than $36,000 for simple cortisone shots that only cost a fraction of that amount.
Hospitals also jumped onto the greed bandwagon by charging patients and their insurance companies outrageous prices for everything. I’ve seen hospital bills that charged $4 for 2 aspirin, $12 for package of tissues, etc. All of this greed led to high healthcare costs throughout the nation. Employers had no choice but to pass on those increases to their employees and individual healthcare climbed like the contrail of a launched rocket.
This all played into the hands of socialists who saw this as a means to force a massive socialistic program upon the American people. They kept trying to convince everyone that a national socialized healthcare system would bring costs down and insure affordable healthcare for everyone. Thus the Affordable Care Act was rammed through a socialist controlled Congress and signed into law by the socialist that sits in the Oval Office.
However, the cost of healthcare for most Americans was not lowered as Obama promised. Employer costs have skyrocketed forcing many to either stop providing coverage to their employees or to offer plans with higher deductibles for less coverage. Costs of individual policies continued to skyrocket.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the worry of paying for healthcare has surpassed the worry about paying for retirement and kids’ educations. EHealth conducted a survey that revealed just how worried Americans have become over the out of control costs of healthcare. They found that 6 of every 10 Americans are worried more about paying for healthcare and medical expenses than they do about paying for their retirement and their kids’ educations.
Lisa Zamosky with the LA Times reports:
“According to the Commonwealth Fund, a New York think tank, annual increases in work-based health plan premiums rose three times faster than wages from 2003 to 2013. Out-of-pocket costs have also been climbing.”
“‘More people have deductibles than ever before,’ says Sara Collins, a Commonwealth Fund vice president. From 2003 to 2013, the size of deductibles has grown nearly 150%.”
“Whether a person is coping with a severe illness or trying to deal with everyday medical costs, the challenges are many.”
“For the better part of a decade, healthcare costs have been eating up a growing share of the family budget, says Paul Fronstin, director of the Health Research & Education Program with the Employee Benefit Research Institute. ‘It’s affected their ability to pay for basic necessities.’”
“Studies conducted by Fronstin’s organization have consistently found that workers have increased credit card debt and cut back on retirement and other savings to pay for healthcare.”
“Though much has been made of a slowdown in the rate at which U.S. healthcare costs have risen in recent years, that trend hasn’t translated into financial relief for patients.”
“‘The overall cost to everybody has slowed, but one of the reasons they’ve slowed is that there’s been a shifting of costs to patients,’ says Paul Ginsburg, director of public policy with USC’s Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics.”
“How much more can our wallets take?”
That’s the question more and more Americans are asking and so far we’re not getting the answers we want to hear.