Rising medical costs are a worldwide problem, but nowhere are they higher than in the U.S. Although Americans with good health insurance coverage may get the best medical treatment in the world, the health of the average American, as measured by life expectancy and infant mortality, is below the average of other major industrial countries. Inefficiency, fraud and the expense of malpractice suits are often blamed for high U.S. costs, but the major reason is overinvestment in technology and personnel.
There are three issues when it comes to the health care cost rising. The first is the rising cost in prescription drugs.The second area of rising cost is the increased technologies when it comes to the medical industry. The third problem is the aging population. Prescription drugs are the area of the fastest growing health care expense, and it is projected to grow at 20 to 30 percent each year over the next several years. There are many newer, more expensive drugs on the market, and the use of these prescriptions is exploding. In addition, with so much television advertising, many consumers ask their doctors for expensive, brand name drugs when there may actually be a generic drug that works just as well.
Over the past decade, scientists have made significant advancements in the treatment of certain diseases. Unfortunately, just like any new product, the cost of developing these new technologies and treatments is extremely high. Plus, unlike other technology, heath technology generally doesnt decrease in price over time.
With todays aging population there is an increased demand for medical care. More and more people with medical insurance are relying on the health care system as new technologies and treatments become available. This leads to a grater number of claims for payment by insurance companies, the costs of which are passed back to health care consumers. The baby-boom generation is entering its peak health-care using period. Over eighty million Americans will turn 50 in the next 10 years. The cost of providing heath care for these individuals will be staggering
The impact this rise is going to have on heath care as well as heath insurance is very dramatic. Most health insurers, private sector employers and consumers can expect increases in insurance premiums. This includes both traditional types of insurance and managed care programs, or HMOs. Some health insurance plans may also reduce benefits to keep their plans affordable. This may include increasing cost-sharing responsibility of members and the amount members pay out of pocket for certain services, such as prescription drugs.
The real question is not what is causing the increase but what is being done to prevent further increases. Bush has planned to add $77 billion to his budget to provide prescription drugs to about 3 million low-income senior citizens over the next 10 years. In January, Bush also unveiled his proposal to give states a 90 percent mat for drug coverage for the nations poorest Medicare recipients. Senior citizens with annual income between $8,500 and $13,000 would be eligible for the free coverage. States already providing drug assistance would be able to use the federal money to expand their programs further.
Lowery, Barbara J. The Rising Cost of Health Care.Universigy of Pennsylvania Almanac. 2002. http://www.Upenn.edu/almanac/v48/n25/healthcost.html (5 March 2002).
Goldstein, Amy. Bush to Seek medicare Prescriptiopn Benefit for Poorest Seniors The Washington Post Online. 2002. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2.http ( 29 January 2002).