The Health Care System Cost Americans around 3 Trillion Dollars in 2014 and is Growing Every Year. Is ObamaCare Enough?

Health Care Facts: health care reform is a good first step towards fixing our health care system. The health care facts show ObamaCare, while an effective program in many respects, isn’t enough to reform the 3 trillion dollar US healthcare industry. Find out the truth about the American health care system and why Americans need to keep fighting for their health care rights.

health care factsHealth Care Facts: A Case for Health Care Reform

Since well before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law we have been seeing:

The US health care system has been spiraling out of control for many years. Some people refer to the unsustainable trends in healthcare as “the health care crisis“.

The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare or ACA) makes big strides towards addressing the “healthcare crisis”.  The ACA:

  • Makes sure Americans get a fair treatment by health care providers.
  • Helps make health insurance more affordable to lower and middle income Americans and small business employers.
  • Offers important new consumer protections.
  • Enforces a lot of new rules that help eliminate wasteful spending.
  • And generally contains about a thousand pages of reforms aimed at addressing the complex issue of American healthcare.

Despite what the ACA gets right, the sheer amount of power behind the for-profit health care system means that ObamaCare’s health care reforms are only a stepping stone toward complete reform.

Let’s take a look at some health care facts that can help us understand American healthcare:

  • According to National Health Expenditure Projections in 2015 the American people will spend approximately 3.2 trillion dollars on health care, and it is being projected that Americans will spend 4.5 trillion dollars on health care in 2019, and 5 trillion by 2022. The ACA curbs the rate of growth in healthcare spending, but it also ads additional spending. With or without the ACA, spending will probably be at about 5 trillion by 2022.
  • According to a report by Health Care for America Now, America’s five biggest for-profit health insurance companies ended 2009 with a combined profit of $12.2 billion.
  • The top executives at the five largest for-profit health insurance companies in the United States combined personally made nearly $200 million in total compensation for 2009.

healthcare spendingHealth Care Facts: Why America Needs Health Care Reform

It’s a health care fact, your costs are going up to ensure that other people’s profits go up. ObamaCare can only do so much to protect your rights. Here are the facts on why America needs health care reform:

  • The United States spends more on health care than Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia combined.
  • If the U.S. health care system was a country, it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.
  • Back in 1960, an average of $147 was spent per person on health care in the United States. By 2009, that number had skyrocketed to $8,086.
  • The cost of health care is not regulated by the government. Prices are set by the private for profit organization AMA / Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee Learn More.
  • A 2007 study by the American Journal of Medicine found approximately 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the United States were related to medical bills. 78 percent of those involved had health insurance, although many were bankrupted anyway due to gaps in coverage such as co-payments, deductibles, and uncovered services. Other people had private insurance but got so sick that they lost their job and lost their insurance. This study did not take into account other debts owed at the time of bankruptcy. Learn more about bankruptcy from Medical bills.
  • The average family of 4 spends about $20,728 per year on healthcare. That’s more than 7 times what the average household spends annually on gas ($2,912).
  • The U.S. health care industry has spent more than 5 billion dollars on lobbying our politicians in Washington D.C. since 1998.
  • Hospital Executives continue to make millions of dollars in profit while consumers struggle to pay their ever increasing medical costs.
  • Health insurance administration expenses account for 8 percent of all health care costs in the United States each year.  In Finland, health insurance administration expenses account for just 2 percent of all health care costs each year.
  • The United States ambulance industry makes more money a year than the entire movie industry does.
  • 1 in 2 Americans technically has a pre-existing condition. According to the CDC, 75 percent of all healthcare expenditures go toward treating chronic diseases, many of which are preventable. Refusing coverage for pre-existing conditions, putting people in high-risk pools, or charging sick people more for coverage was one of the main ways premium rates were artificially kept low before the ACA.
  • Before the ACA premiums were rising at an unsustainable rate, and without taking subsidies into account this trend has continued under the Affordable Care Act (in part due to insurers having to cover pre-existing conditions). In 2013, Blue Shield of California announced that it wanted to raise health insurance premiums by up to 20 percent to combat rising health care costs. As of 2015 insurers continue to raise rates to maintain a profit under the increasing cost of the rest of the healthcare system.
  • Nearly half of all Americans use prescription drugs.
  • In 2013 over $280,000,000,000 was spent on prescription drugs.
  • Over 25 for-profit companies made over a billion dollars in profit on of prescription drugs in 2008 alone.
  • According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals (medications).
  • In America today, you are  more likely to be killed by a doctor than you are by a gun. To be fair, you are also 100% more likely to be healed by a doctor than a gun. (Background: There was an inaccurate claim that you are 64 times more likely to be killed by a doctor than by a gun, that “fact” is based on biased math, which compared non-suicide gun deaths to estimates of all medical related deaths (including deaths from people who go into a hospital sick and dying). If we look at CDC data we can see accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the US. Part of the reason that accidental death statistics are so high is because some people get unnecessary surgery, some have slips and falls, and some are given unnecessary medication. One of the many things the Affordable Care Act does is work to reduce accidental deaths through better regulations on the healthcare industry.
  • People living in the United States are three times more likely to have diabetes than people living in the United Kingdom.
  • Today, people living in Puerto Rico have a greater life expectancy than people living in the continental United States do.
  • According to OECD statistics, Americans are twice as obese as Canadians.
  • Greece has twice as many hospital beds per person as the United States does.
  • The state of California now ranks dead last out of all 50 states in the number of emergency rooms per million people.
  • It has been estimated that hospitals overcharge Americans by about 10 billion dollars every single year.
  • One trained medical billing advocate says that over 90 percent of the medical bills that she has audited contain “gross overcharges”.
  • It is not uncommon for insurance companies to get hospitals and laboratory test providers, to reduce their bills by up to 95 percent, but if you are uninsured, or you don’t know how the system works, then you will be billed the full amount.
  • If you want more facts about uninsured Americans, learn more about uninsured Americans from the Kaiser Family Foundation (one of the best resources on health care reform) and how ObamaCare helps.

Resources: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. TIME: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us 8.

The Rising Costs of Premiums

Although ObamaCare regulates insurance, it was not able to regulate costs as well as everyone might have hoped. ObamaCare left room for insurance companies to raise premiums in order to include the cost of covering pre-existing conditions.

Insurance companies raised rates substantially going into 2014 when discrimination against pre-existing conditions was banned under the Affordable Care Act and all plans had to become guaranteed issue. The cost of covering those with pre-existing conditions has always been one of the biggest obstacles in healthcare and as our ability to detect and treat chronic illness gets better this only becomes more true.

To add to this problem the underlying healthcare industries like drug makers, device makers, and hospitals continue to raise prices to retain their place in the for-profit market. As the root costs of healthcare go up the costs of treatment and detection go up too. The ACA’s new taxes on the healthcare industry help to fund subsidies which lower costs based on income, but the base costs are still a major issue even under the ACA.

Although ObamaCare helps to keep insurance affordable for low and middle income Americans. Premiums are projected to keep rising. ObamaCare has done a lot to help curb premium growth and many pay less after subsidies, but the base costs of premiums are still growing at unsustainable rates for many families like they did before the law despite cost curbing measures.

What is still unknown however is how the new reforms will affect long-term growth in healthcare costs. One hope is that by expanding access to preventive services (though regulation and subsidies) chronic illness will be caught early more often saving us all wasteful spending and human suffering.

Health Care Facts: Is a For Profit Health Care System Bad? Who is to Blame?

The facts on health care can be scary. However, we as Americans have always faced seemingly unsolvable problems with frightening odds and come out on top. The Affordable Care Act can only do so much to fix our problems, like any other problem the answer starts with you. A for profit system will always do what it can to make a profit. This doesn’t make any one person or institution bad or good, it’s simply millions of people like you and me doing their job and expecting more success and money than last year. If we want to fix the issues we can’t look for a scapegoat, rather we need to address each area of healthcare thoughtfully to eliminate loopholes and wasteful spending and to increase efficiency. In order to further address healthcare we need to let our representatives know that we want more, not less, meaningful reform that protects our economy and our people, not the profits of big companies and their top executives.

Why are Rising Costs Bad?

The truth of the matter here is that publicly held debt and the deficit are growing at an unsustainable rate according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation. If nothing changes the CBO says we will see major financial repercussions within the decade. There are only two ways to correct these trends: hard and fast economic downturn, or slow and steady downward trends. The longer we put off fixing the issues the larger chance we face an unwanted outcome. Essentially, we are kicking the can down the road, and every-time we kick it the repercussions get worse and worse. HealthCare, Military, and Social Security spending account for the majority of all federal spending. None of these are easy to address, but we have begun to work on healthcare.

The Affordable Care Act and Health Care Reform

The ongoing healthcare crisis wasn’t fixed overnight by the Affordable Care Act or any other reforms, but today the sheer amount of new benefits, rights, and protections for consumers, paired with new rules and regulation of the healthcare and health insurance industry, have helped to curb spending in healthcare, curb the growth in consumer costs, and reduced the number of people left uninsured.

A May 2014 Gallup poll shows that, under ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act), the number of uninsured Americans is the least it has been since 2008 when Gallup started polling the number of people who were uninsured . Data from HHS on the uninsured in 2007 shows that this could actually the lowest uninsured rate since before 1998. The uninsured rate for U.S. adults in April was 13.4%, down from 15.0% in March. (Update: As of July 2015 the numbers are even more impressive with the uninsured rate around 11.4%).

So, while spending may not have been put on a downward trajectory, we have managed to increase the number of people insured and improve healthcare coverage without increasing net spending, which helps to show the ACA was a move in the right direction in many respects.

Health Care Facts: What Can We Do?

If you are upset by the health care costs, there are some positive things you can do on your own. Review your insurance during open enrollment periods to make sure you have made the best choice that you can. Take advantage of the wellness visits and preventative measured offered for free on all health insurance subject to the ACA’s new rules and regulations. Take a serious look at the prescription drugs you are using and you are giving to your children. Do you really need these? This is a difficult question to answer. You should always take the medication that you need; if you have diabetes, heart disease, or any other treatable condition, then you need to treat your illness, but discuss medication with your doctor. There may be a less expensive or more effective alternative to the medication you are currently taking. Eat the right foods, organic foods, local meats and produce. Show at local Farmers’ Markets. Raw foods and other non-processed foods may increase wellness and life expectancy. Get exercise.

Most of all, help support whatever type of health care reform will help you the most. We, as a society, created our health care system, and it’s up to us to fix it. The Affordable Care Act leaves the door open for future health care reforms, perhaps like single payer, or perhaps even another, better solution we haven’t even thought of yet. It is unrealistic to think that one law will solve all the problems of one of the biggest most powerful institutions in the world, but together we have made a difference. If we stay informed and keep working, we can continue to see positive changes.


The Health Care Facts Might Just Surprise You