With healthcare costs soaring and Coronavirus running rampant, some are wondering what’s going to be. In the U.S. healthcare spending is over 18% of Gross Domestic Product as compared to the 8.8% of GDP spent in countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation Development.
From 2007 to 2014 Americans with health insurance saw their health spending increase by 20% on average. The skyrocketing prices of prescriptions may have a part to play. From 2009 to 2016 the cost of EpiPens rose from $100 to $600, and from 2012 to 2016 the rise of insulin prices increased diabetics’ spending by $2,841 every year.
The problem is that health insurance is big business, in 2019 the 5 largest health insurance and pharmacy benefit providers in the U.S. made more than the 5 largest tech companies.
- UnitedHealth Group
- $787 Billion
- $783 Billion
1 in 3 Americans says they or a family member delayed seeking treatment due to healthcare costs. Many low-income families have to choose between paying for groceries, heat, or electricity and medical costs. And things may be getting harder, it is predicted that by 2027 healthcare spending will reach $6 Trillion a year.
Americans are 2-3 times more likely than Canadians to ignore medical advice due to cost. The unfortunate result is avoidable death. With the younger generations being most affected, over half of Millennials and Gen x delayed or avoided care due to cost. Every year delaying or avoiding care leads to 125,000 avoidable deaths and makes up 10% more hospitalizations.
Those who do seek medical care don’t always follow through, 30% out of patients in Texas, who had a claim denied, paid for care out of pocket, another 14% appealed and received benefits, leaving over half not pursuing medical care.
What’s more, 67% of medication non-adherence is linked to the high cost of healthcare, with 20-30% of prescriptions never filled. Many simply can’t afford the high costs of medication, but it’s costing a lot more in the long run. For patients with chronic diseases especially, abstaining from treatment can cost anywhere from $949 to $44,190, due to worsening symptoms, complications, and hospital re-admittance.
Every year, more than 26,000 Americans die due to a lack of health insurance, with those uninsured being 25-80% more at risk for death. Of the uninsured, more than 8 in 10 are low-income families, and more than 7 in 10 have at least one full
Time worker in their family. Minorities make up 43% of the population, but over 50% of those uninsured.
- 22% of the uninsured are Native Americans
- 19% of the uninsured are Hispanic Americans
- 11% of the uninsured are African Americans
Since 2016, the total of uninsured has gone up by 1.2 million
On March 20, 2020, a 17-year-old with symptoms of COVID-19 went to an urgent care facility in California to seek treatment. Due to a lack of insurance, he was denied care and sent to a local hospital instead. He went into cardiac arrest before reaching the hospital and died 6 hours later.
These are the lamentable social impacts of mixing business with medicine. Those who need care may be turned away, those who cannot afford care are left untreated, and those who are untreated may perish.
Learn more about mixing business and medicine here.
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