Yesterday’s post focused on the pain of enrollment for healthcare insurance. The other pain is the cost of the insurance. When I retired from IBM in 2001, my monthly health insurance cost was a little more than $200, including one of my four children who was eligible at that time. For 2014, my monthly cost will be approximately $1,275 for my wife and I. I feel quite fortunate to be able to afford the insurance and gain access to great healthcare. Unfortunately, millions of people who need healthcare cannot afford the insurance. There are two problems associated with the unaffordability.
First, the United States is the only developed country in the world that does not provide some form of health insurance for the entire population. Congress legislated that no person can be denied healthcare at the emergency department, so you could argue that everyone has healthcare. However, treatment in the ER is expensive and it includes no preventive care. In the long run, providing free or very low cost preventive care could be a good investment in the economic future of the country. A healthy economy requires healthy workers.
The second problem with the affordability is the cost of healthcare. The United States has the highest healthcare expenditure per capita or as a percentage of GDP of any country in the world. I used to think that was because our care is the best. That was until I have been studying healthcare for the past three years. Our life expectancy and health outcomes are not the best. Our problem with the cost is simply that it is too high. We have duplicative tests. We don’t share information between providers. We don’t have adequate competition among various healthcare suppliers. The list goes on. I will be writing more about this in the months ahead.