Health Care and 2018
The health care industry touches everyone’s lives somehow. It is no secret that the industry is expensive, and that the costs associated with it are constantly increasing. Because of this, keeping an eye on the trends and statistics in health care can help save a few pennies.
Insurance Premiums and Deductibles
Since 2006, insurance deductibles have risen 255% and, since 2005, premiums for family coverage have gone up by 85%. A deductible is something that an insured person must pay before the insurance company will cover any claims. Typically, higher deductible plans yield lower premiums, monthly payments, and lower deductible plans yield higher premiums.
Recently, deductibles and premiums have been independently rising. This means that a deductible will be more expensive in general and the same trend applies to premiums. A person may sign up for a high deductible plan to get cheaper premiums. Of course, the premiums will appear cheaper when compared to other people, but both the deductible and the premiums will appear much higher when compared to the same plan in 2005/2006.
Insurance prices are not rising alone. Out-of-pocket expenses for patients have increased by 230% from 2007-2017. An out-of-pocket expense is simply an expense that the patient pays directly to the health care provider they are visiting. The rise in out-of-pocket payments has a few implications for all consumers of health care.
The first of these implications is that insurance companies are covering less while costing more. Out-of-pocket expenses come from not having insurance or from the expense remaining after the insurance benefit(s) have been deducted. The second implication is that the cost of health care alone is getting more expensive. Patients and insurance companies are not able to keep up with the rise.
Insurance and Physician Transparency
Possibly related to the rise in expense for health care, patients are wanting to know more about their health care. More specifically, 92% of health care consumers want to know what they are responsible for paying before visiting a health care provider. Since costs are going up, people need to know what to save in order to get medical care.
Doctors and insurance companies will have to be more responsible in sharing payment information. Without knowing how much money a treatment will cost them, patients may even start to refuse service, which is not good for anyone. As a result, it is likely that insurance companies will be more transparent about what they will cover, and doctors will be more open about the cost of their care.
Variable digital color printed billing has been show to increase recall and comprehension by as much as 80-83% according to Open Practice Solutions a medical billing management firm. Likewise brand identity is increased by 69% as well.
In the health care industry, not all of the money goes towards health care. There are administrative costs, which include salraies of people who create medical bills, for all hospitals, all over the world. The United States boasts one of the largest portion of money going towards administration at 25%. That is a lot of money not being applied to better medical equipment. This has a more obvious effect on the average consumer than some other problems in the health care industry.
With one-fourth of the USA’s hospital money being placed towards administration, the hospitals may not be able to afford better medical equipment or physicians. This means that the quality of care for patients is drastically reduced. This is also part of why health care costs are going up. As more money goes towards administrative services, more money needs to be brought in to pay for medical equipment. That money comes from consumers.
Traditional payment methods may not be the best way to collect money from patients anymore. In the first half of 2017, 62% of medical bills were paid online and 95% of patients said they would pay online if that was an option.
Patients seem to enjoy paying online more than they do with traditional collection methods. Online payments are more convenient since most of it can be done on a mobile device. Online payments also increase the transparency of insurance companies and health care providers. Beyond that, online collections also increase the total amount of money patients end up paying to the health care provider. Online collection options seem to benefit everyone involved with the health care industry.
The Opioid Crisis
All of these larger issues in health care can cause more specific problems for patients with specific problems. The opioid crisis has been going on for years, and death related to opiate overdoses have become the leading cause of death in Americans under the age of 50. The opioid crisis is a large, complex problem, but the generally poor treatment that is often given to people who are addicted does not have to be.
One of the reasons treatment is so poor is because of the allocation of money in the health care industry. One-fourth of the money in USA hospitals is allocated for administrative expenses. This means less money is being used for treatment and research into people who are addicted to opiates. This problem is magnified by the rising cost of health care in general. People who are addicted to drugs tend to be unable to afford health care. If things continue has they have been, this problem will not resolve any time soon.
The direction of health care in the United States is very concerning. Insurance costs are increasing, which harms patients. Out-of-pocket expenses are increasing, which threatens patients. Health care costs in general are more expensive, which makes people less likely to seek help. The allocation of hospital money is also concerning and seems to place less emphasis on patients. The opioid crisis is just one of many problems affected by these trends.
While things do seem bleak, there is some positivity to be found. Online payment options seem to be beneficial for patients, health care providers, and health insurers. Patients are also beginning to demand transparency, which will make health care fairer.