In the Dallas Morning News series Cost of Care, Jim Landers explains how the recent decrease in US Healthcare spending may appear to be good news but the slowdown is really a consolation prize. Compared to developed countries like Germany, people in the US spend as much as 89% more for healthcare. Costs have been a growing problem for over thirty years. A Kaiser Family Foundation study shows that from 1999 to 2014, family health insurance premiums have jumped 212%. The United States is number one when it comes to healthcare spending. The US is also the second fattest country in the world. Regretfully employee wages have not kept up with the US appetite for healthcare and fatty foods. In that same time period wages have only increased by 54%.
Landers concludes that the relative high cost of healthcare has forced people to buy health insurance because very few can pay for catastrophic medical care out of pocket. Those out of control cost have also prompted both sides of the political isle to try to regulate health insurance to control the cost of healthcare. Landers points out that the government mandates for everyone to buy health insurance would not be necessary if US healthcare spending was more in line with the rest of the world. Here is the key to his analysis. Greed now drives the system.
There are so many people making so much money from healthcare spending that it is now a significant part of US culture. Healthcare spending represents 17.4% of all US spending. Attempts to control healthcare cost by changing the culture have met with a lot of resistance. However both politicians and some healthcare providers realize that the current level of healthcare spending is unsustainable. Since it is not clear what the problem is, consumers are being forced to guide the healthcare market by spending more of their own money. The average health insurance deductible has risen to $1,500. Forcing consumers to spend more of their own money does not appear to translate into shopping for the best price. It makes consumers put off going to the doctor which may cost more in the end. So who is to blame? Cost of Care is a yearlong series that may not only help us see the problems with healthcare but realize some solutions.
Landers, Jim. “Cost of Care: The U.S. Health Care System Is Bleeding Green.” The Dallas Morning News 1 Feb. 2015, Metro sec. Print.