Our Politicians Fiddle While the Healthcare Debacle Marches On

I have a friend with a chronic health condition.  This condition requires treatment once a year over the course of two visits.  It’s an outpatient procedure involving an infusion of a medication.  For the last three years, this treatment has been performed at the exact same facility with the exact same dosage.  The treatment involves setting up an IV, infusing the medication, and having the patient sit there for an hour to ensure no reaction takes place.  In all, a medical professional spends less than 30 minutes with the patient.  Following is what the hospital charged and the out of pocket charge to the patient each year:

2015                                       2016                                       2017

Hospital charge                               $5,744.44                             $6,856.02                             $8,163.04

Due from Patient*                          $955.02                                 $1,258.52                             $2,266.75

*The amount due from the patient reflects insurance adjustments and the patient’s deductible, which increased from $1,500 to $3,000 over the 3 year period.

That’s almost a 20% increase per year in the billed amount and over 50% per year in the amount the patient had to pay!  (Those of us in the label/packaging industry need to take lessons from healthcare about raising prices.)  Again, same place, same procedure.  Another fascinating factoid – the cost of the medicine increased less than 10% over the course of 3 years.  Additional “facility charge fees” from the hospital made up the majority of the cost increases in this example.

I know this is one example; I’m sure there are plenty of examples where our current healthcare system is saving people money.  We were promised Obamacare would “bend the healthcare cost curve.”  The evidence is lacking to support that claim. (https://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-12-12/the-affordable-care-act-didnt-bend-the-cost-curve)  While all this goes on, we have a political party in power that complained for 7 years about Obamacare.  When they got elected, they had no plan to fix the problem.  And politicians wonder why there’s discontent among the people of this country.  Stop fiddling and start solving problems.


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