High Healthcare Cost in the US
Healthcare costs at 18 percent of America’s economy and growing 2 percent faster than Gross Domestic Product, both the level and rate of growth of national health care spending are quite alarming. While this isn’t a new problem, the amount of spending on health care, combined with the country’s fiscal challenges, makes the need to contain health care costs a national priority requiring a sense of urgency. High health care spending is exacerbating the government’s strained fiscal situation with national debit exceeding $21 trillion and is hurting the standard of living for many Americans.
It’s quite clear that the Costs of Health Care in America are Unsustainable. Even though the benefits of improved health care are significant, the costs of health care are immense. Comparing the data from 1960, national health expenditures represented around 5 percent of U.S. GDP, and now account for about 18 percent of national GDP and rising. The current cost situation is unsustainable for all stakeholders: the federal government, state governments, private health plans, employers, and consumers. Therefore, there is an urgency for cost containment in the US.
Americans often describe the U.S. health care system as the best in the world. But according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund, the U.S. health care system ranks last among 11 high-income countries. US leads the world in health care spending, but its residents are sicker and more likely to die of preventable conditions than those in other wealthy countries.
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The United States offers some of the most advanced specialty health services in the world. For Americans with access, care is patient-centered, and outcomes for some major diseases are as good as or better than in other countries. Despite these strengths, health care outcomes are worse than 11 other high-income countries and many Americans lack affordable, high-quality health care.
Four challenges characterize the U.S. health care system: high costs, difficulty accessing primary care, confusing and inefficient administration, and disparities in care because of income, education level, race, or ethnicity. Countries that outperform the U.S. address these issues through universal health insurance, stronger primary care systems, payment approaches that minimize billing conflicts, and greater investment in social supports that lead to better health.
Laws enacted between 2010 and 2015, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), have placed the United States on a path to improvement but still lot remains to be done. More Americans now have health insurance, and innovations by Medicaid and Medicare are laying the groundwork for stronger primary care. Despite some of the ACA improvements, overall healthcare system remains marred with inefficiencies, out of control pharmaceuticals cost, too many conflicting billing rules and regulations, frivolous law suits etc. It’s equally important to note that USFDA remains out of control with large bureaucracy which often delays new life saving drugs and further increasing the cost of the drugs.
The U.S. health care system could make progress toward becoming the best in the world by removing financial and other barriers to timely care, making strong primary care widely available, and reducing inequities. Instead of reversing the accomplishments of recent years, health reforms should aim to ensure adequate health insurance for all, offer ready access to primary care, modernize payment approaches, tort reform and support the social services that can improve health.