The health care cost spiral is slowing- finally. Prior to 2008, the increase averaged at least 8% a year- for two decades! Over the past 5 years (up to 2014), total healthcare costs have growing by less than 3% annually. That trend is up for grabs through, as the last year’s(2015) increase seems to 5.5%- but the current year’s increase will be a little less at 4.8%. Except, these numbers still don’t tell the whole story….
For years, various patient advocate groups have been helping folks get health insurance. In particular, the AKF (American Kidney Fund) has been paying the premiums for folks who are undergoing dialysis.
Remember when I said that non-profit hospitals didn’t become greedy SOB’s when they converted to for-profit status. And, that their care was pretty good- despite their change in motivation. I also said that most dialysis centers seemed to be of the same mental state.
In the late 2000s- long before Obamacare- Oregon began considering how it could best manage the health care costs for its poorer citizens. This program eventually became known as the Oregon Health Care Experiment.
It always amazes me that U.S. dialysis patients are not more healthy than the rest of the world’s. Even though our program costs more than everyone else’s. Of course, many of our dialysis patients end up as dialysis patients because they have diabetes- which is the proximate cause of their kidney failure. And, keeps our dialysis population at the top of the charts (as in “way too many patients”). And, this also often leads to cardiovascular complications, which reduces the ability of these patients to undergo kidney transplants.
Yesterday, we discussed indemnity, catastrophic, and conventional health care plans. One of the primary reasons to have a health care plan is to be able to get lower prices for each service that may be needed. Without such a plan, you pay what the provider wants- or get sued. The difference in pricing can be 90%. It is routine for me to see an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) detailing a bill that came in as $ 7244, was considered to be $ 1200 once reduced by my insurance carrier, and for my share of the costs to be only $ 50 or so.
Oh, I know, you’ve heard that some folks’ insurance bill have escalated. I will not deny that changing from a catastrophic-coverage plan to a real health care plan is not more (even much more) expensive- but in the grand scheme of things for all citizens, that is not a big change. Because most Americans get their health care insurance at work.