People suffer needlessly or die in this country every day because they are unable to pay for the care they need. Healthcare cost in America is a major issue that affects millions of people every day. Many people in this country are living without adequate healthcare options because they are either under insured or do not have health insurance at all. As it is today, the government foots the bill for millions of people through Medicare and Medicaid, but there are still millions of people who do not qualify for healthcare help through these services because their incomes are “too high”.
As well, there are millions who are unable to afford regular insurance coverage because their incomes are too low. Consequently, many people without insurance must pay out-of-pocket for healthcare, and even those with insurance are required to pay copays and coinsurance costs. However, Neff, Alexander, Garloch & Raynor (2012) point out the higher cost burdens on the insured are used to pay for the healthcare of those with no insurance, in many instances.
Higher Cost/Same Care
Healthcare costs are constantly rising but the quality of the healthcare does not necessarily increase. Patients are being forced to have treatments in hospital facilities that they normally had in their private physician’s office, and the costs are higher. Reasons for this trend vary; however, one of the most prominent reasons behind the rising cost of healthcare depends on whether or not a patient is treated in a hospital or a doctor’s office. According to Neff, Alexander, Garloch & Raynor (2012), hospitals are able to charge more for the same types of procedures as doctor’s offices.
In addition, new Medicare laws limit how much private doctors are paid to treat Medicare patients. For example, a hospital can charge up to 80 percent more for Medicare than a private doctor, and more than twice the amount for cardiac-related treatments. In addition, insurance companies pay out higher claims to hospitals than they do to private doctor practices. These facts are the reasons many private doctors are selling out to hospitals and becoming employees of the hospitals, often with reluctance.
Hospitals Buying Out Doctor’s Offices
Creswell & Abelson (2012), report on some of the costs differences between patients being seen in hospitals as opposed to private doctor’s offices. For example, a patient can pay $319 for an echocardiogram in a hospital, but that same procedure is only $143 in a doctor’s office. Additionally, costs are driven up by other administrative-type sources such as hospitals increasing hospital admissions unnecessarily or a doctor earning a $5,000 bonus for making sure he discharges his patients in less than three days (Creswell & Abelson, 2012).
Another example of increased costs for a patient’s treatment location switching from the doctor’s office to a hospital facility is the case of a North Carolina cardiology patient, who normally paid a $60 copay for her cardiac tests, ended up having to pay over $900 after having her same, routine procedures done in a hospital (Neff, Alexander, Garloch & Raynor, 2012).
These are issues that not only hurt the pockets of the patients, but can hurt them health-wise as well by them receiving inadequate, rushed care that is not patient-centered. The rising cost of healthcare does not necessarily improve the quality of the healthcare system, and the money paid by the consumers is often used as a cushion to the bottom line profits of large healthcare facilities and systems, and sometimes at the expense of reluctant doctors being forced to sell their practices to survive in the business.
Creswell, J., & Abelson, R. (2012, November 30). A Hospital War Reflects a Bind for Doctors in the U.S. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/01/business/a-hospital-war-reflects-a-tightening-bind-for-doctors-nationwide.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Neff, J., Alexander, A., Garloch, K., & Raynor, D. (2012, December 16). Doctors join hospitals, and prices soar. News & Observer. Retrieved from http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/12/15/2547121/doctors-join-hospitals-and-prices.html