Right now in the United States, there are at least 47 million uninsured individuals with no way to pay for their health care. 47 million men, women, and children live day to day without knowing how to pay their doctor or hospital should they get hurt accidentally or caught a life-threatening infection, or found a suspicious mole on their skin. I’m sure you can develop a very long list of other scenarios where an individual, by no fault of their own, will need medical care at some time in their life. Some will do whatever it takes to avoid getting medical care; others will have no choice because their medical condition has become so bad or life threatening that they have to be treated. Most times, these individuals in the latter will seek care, but it would be too late to change the outcome. Millions have died, at times unnecessarily, because their access to health care has been compromised. Right now, in the United States, access to care is directly tied to their ability to pay.
And the cost of health care in the United States has been and continues to skyrocket out of control in the past 3 decades.
And the reasons why this continues are best described here (source):
With the downturn in the economy since 2008, the top 3 reasons (cost, lost job, changed employment, employer did not offer insurance) became even more substantial.
So if cost is a major factor in the number of uninsured patients, and costs continue to skyrocket…what is causing the cost of healthcare to rise?
The answer is elusive and depending on who you ask, you’ll probably get a different answer. And this graph only give a partial idea of the driving costs of healthcare (source):
Here is my answer:
In the United States, we as a society have prioritized procedures, drugs, and futile, heroic treatments rather than focusing on prevention and early intervention. Even if we as a society “know” that prevention and early intervention are better approaches, “doing” the action and encouraging the “doing” is not happening.
We, as a society, have not realized or understood the impact of untreated mental health conditions on the cost of society as a whole. We have not realized that there are proven interventions available to improve outcomes to reduce that cost on society and we have not focused or efforts to support these programs and interventions, especially for children.
We, as a society, believe that health care is a commodity and not a right for everyone.
We, as a society, believe that there is an infinite pool of money to fund technologies and treatments that may or may not improve health outcomes and that the free market is the final answer to all of the problems health-care related.
I argue that these beliefs are what is ultimately driving the costs of healthcare out of control.
I argue that these beliefs can be changed. I know that I might be crazy, but I don’t think I’m alone.
With this backdrop of information, I’ll talk about the next headline…