As costs of care continue to climb in the United States, millions of Americans are finding themselves going into debt just to afford basic levels of care. Even those with health insurance are feeling the pressure; 20% of Americans have difficulty paying their medical bills, including those covered by health insurance. While all seem to agree that the costs of health care in the United States are too high, few seem to be able to agree on a best course of action to address the issue, leaving millions in a precarious financial situation.
Americans Avoiding Care
Rising costs are forcing many into an incredibly difficult decision for themselves and their families: do they seek preventive care or avoid incurring debt-creating medical costs? The bill associated with medical care has led many to keep themselves and their families from seeking preventive treatments and care that could improve quality of life, ultimately leading to a decline in general health. This is particularly noticeable in many common work environments. For example, in all U.S. states, one in 25 working-age adults face work limitations they attribute to arthritis. Additionally, over 1.5 billion people suffer from chronic pain. While some management methods are available that could reduce limitations, many are unable to afford these measures, instead choosing to push through discomfort for the sake of not having to pay for care. This mentality sometimes even results in people not seeking out emergency care, despite it being necessary. The costs associated with ER visits are so prohibitive that many would rather not seek emergency care at all.
While millions of Americans remain either underinsured or uninsured, even those with insurance are struggling to pay medical bills. As a result, some states across the United States are seeking out potential options for solutions. Washington, for example, is planning to launch a “public option” health care plan. This proposed health care coverage option for Washington residents, if it goes according to plan, could help those struggling to afford medical care and set a precedent for other states to follow. While some Americans are eligible for government programs like Medicaid, a system like the one proposed in Washington could be game-changing for healthcare costs and the health insurance industry in the United States as a whole.
While plans have been proposed in certain areas of the United States that could have far-reaching impacts for the medical and insurance industries, there is no guarantee that they’ll go according to plan. If these plans don’t work out and costs continue to rise nationwide, many will be forced to sacrifice critical preventive care and other forms of medical treatment. It’s likely that many common health conditions will continue to increase in number; for example, it is estimated that by 2025, 900 million people throughout the world will be hearing impaired. As healthcare costs across America continue to increase, the potential for disease and common health conditions to increase in frequency is significant. Many Americans already struggle to pay medical bills, and without significant change soon, this trend will likely continue for the foreseeable future.