Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Health Care Costs Increase, but not because of the Affordable Care Act!

Even during the run-up to the Affordable Care Act, the media and health care pundits never brought up the deplorable state of our private insurance based system.

I remember it well as a small business owner because I had to shop in the individual market every year after receiving huge premium increases to re-up. While the media claimed increases somewhere around 10%, mine were 20 to 30%. Looks like I was right. LA Times:
Family premiums have increased 20% over the last five years, which is a lot but a darn sight better than the 31% hike over the previous five years, and a huge improvement over the staggering 63% growth in the five years before that.
A look at the latest stats will probably prompt Republicans to blame ObamaCare for increased health care costs, but that would be a lie. Here's the headline:
Sick: The biggest increase in healthcare costs in 32 years: The U.S. Labor Department reported Friday that spending on healthcare rose last month by the biggest amount (1%) in more than three decades.
But it’s wasn't ObamaCare's fault, or even insurance companies jacking up premiums; blame hospital costs and drug prices. This is very important to understand;
The overall price of medical treatment increased by 1% in August … the largest monthly gain since 1984 … The cost of hospital services climbed 1.7% in August, the biggest gain since October 2015, while the average price of prescription meds jumped 1.3%. That means average drug prices are up 6.3% over the last 12 months, the largest such increase in two years.
Health care is NOT a Consumer Product: The most egregious mistake Republicans like Paul Ryan make is treating health care like a consumable product. We don't "shop" for care, but receive it when we are least able to do anything but get immediate medical help.

Ghoulish Health Care Profits: Republicans must think buying health insurance makes this a consumer product, but ridiculous. In other industrialized countries, there are strict laws barring anyone from profiting off of the sick and dying. Makes sense, right? And that should be a dilemma for Republicans, but isn't because...
This country already spends $3 trillion annually on healthcare. That represents about 17% of total economic activity. The average for all nations within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is 9%.

It’s deeply worrying that one of our most robust and reliable engines of economic growth is the business of sick people. Unless, that is, having the biggest hospital and drugstore bills is a point of pride.
It's a nasty revelation that I hope a few conservatives might start thinking about.

The other big topic I’ve been shouting about for years; Workplace Employee Deductibles and Health Savings Accounts, a Republican idea that brings about self rationing and bankruptcy so sick people have "skin in the game," like they don't already have a lot to lose:
Many Americans are paying more out of pocket for healthcare as they try to keep a lid on monthly premiums by accepting higher insurance deductibles … annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health plans are up an average 3% to $18,142 ... high-deductible plans shifting a greater share of the spending burden to patients … insurers keeping costs down by providing less-comprehensive coverage. Twenty-nine percent of all U.S. workers are now in high-deductible plans, up from 20% two years ago, according to Kaiser.
And what about drug prices?
recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that while the average price of generics has come down in recent years, more than 300 generic meds have experienced “at least one extraordinary price increase of 100% or more.” Investigators found 15 generic meds that have seen price hikes of more than 1,000%.

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