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No End In Sight to Rising Healthcare Costs

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media, October 25, 2010

I thought healthcare providers were working to decrease costs. But because I gave birth this year, my baby boy is more expensive than other children born in years past.

I’ll back up. In July I gave birth to a very handsome little boy. I’m thrilled to be a mom, but now I fully understand how expensive children are. I’m not just talking about diapers and formula; I’m talking about the cost of healthcare. You see, my son was a breech baby so I had to have a C-section. In the weeks that followed his birth I had a slew of routine appointments with my pediatrician, a visit with the X-ray lab, blood work, and more tests. I got a clean bill of health for my son, thankfully, but I also got several other bills from all these providers—it seems all these visits were not covered by my health insurance.

I, like so many other people in the U.S., now have a high-deductible health plan. In the past, insurance covered me for most general issues; however, now I have to cover a large chunk of change myself before the insurance kicks in. Now, in theory, by having this type of plan consumers will be more inclined to shop around for the best price. Well, I’m a very educated healthcare consumer, and I can tell you that you don’t shop around when you are giving birth.

Nor do you shop around for the best price when you have a newborn baby. Moreover, I have a good friend who is afflicted with stage four brain cancer and she isn’t looking for bargains either. She is going to the hospital that can provide her with the best treatment.

For the mounting bills that I and my friend are receiving, we have more than a few culprits to lay the blame onto: the economy, the hospitals, the insurers, our employers, even our physicians. But no matter who you blame, the fact is that consumers are paying more and the trickle down effects are hitting hospitals, as evidenced by a couple of reports from the rating agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.

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5 comments on "No End In Sight to Rising Healthcare Costs"


chuck (10/26/2010 at 11:29 AM)
Let's get real[INVALID]you want to REALLY cut costs?? Do what all the other industrialized countries of the world have already done[INVALID]go to a SINGLE PAYER SYSTEM for EVERYONE. This reduces costs drastically by eliminating the 25% of costs that go to administrative waste and demands universal healthcare standards so outcomes are better. Single Payer also allows for preventive care to take precedence over medical care. Plus. sigle payer covers everyone[INVALID]1/6th of Americans will no longer be uninsured, costing us even more in the long run. Unfortunately in the US, so many people are making money off the current system that they don't really want it to change[INVALID]insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, etc., want the current system to stay in place so their profits won't be harmed. Of course, no one is really looking long-term when an inevitable system collapse will harm ALL profits. Little fixes like high deductible health plans, malpractice reform, etc., may make mild improvements to the system, but they're not stopping this runaway train. DRASTIC measures need to be taken if everyone is really serious about reducing spending for healthcare.

bob (10/26/2010 at 9:57 AM)
No knowledgeable analyst has ever expected health care costs to decrease during the next decade. Rather, the goal is to reduce the rate of increase. If the rate of increase will be reduced annually by just one per cent, that will make a tremendous difference in Medicare expenditures and everything else. Notice that S&P just reported that "looking across the family of S&P Healthcare Indices, we have seen a trend of moderation in the annual growth rates, particularly in the last 12 months. This is most prominent with Medicare claims costs. In November 2009 those costs were rising at an annual rate of 7.94%. With August's report we see that the rate has fallen to +5.08%. That is the big news. Spread the word!

bob (10/26/2010 at 9:42 AM)
No knowledgeable analyst has ever expected healthcare costs to stop rising in the decade ahead. The goal is to bend the cost curve and decrease the rate of increase. If the rate of increase goes down just one per cent annually during the decade, that will make a tremendous difference in Medicare expenditures and everything else. That is what is going on right now. Notice that S&P reports that "looking across the family of S&P Healthcare Indices, we have seen a trend of moderation in the annual growth rates, particularly in the last 12 months. This is most prominent with Medicare claims costs. In November 2009 those costs were rising at an annual rate of 7.94%. With August's report we see that the rate has fallen to +5.08%." That is the big news!