Friday, November 18, 2016
U.S. Still Has Most Expensive Healthcare Covering Fewest
The chart above is from a new study by The Commonwealth Fund. It shows that the United States has the highest cost-related barriers to healthcare of the richest 11 developed countries. The other countries surveyed are the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, and Switzerland. The definition of a cost-related healthcare barrier is:
Cost-related access barrier to care = had a medical problem but did not visit doctor; skipped medical test, treatment, or follow-up recommended by doctor; and/or did not fill prescription or skipped doses.
The report concluded that the United States still has the highest per capita cost of healthcare, and still has the largest number of people who cannot access that healthcare (largely because of a lack of health insurance). The report shows that a third of all Americans (33.3%) experience a cost-related barrier to healthcare, and for low-income citizens (those making less than 50% of the country's median income) that rises to 41%.
The report says:
Although the U.S. has made significant progress in expanding insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, it remains an outlier among high-income countries in ensuring access to health care. The authors point out that all of the other countries surveyed provide universal insurance coverage, and many provide better cost protection and a more extensive safety net. To address the barriers to access and affordability identified in the survey, policymakers might consider expanding Medicaid eligibility in the 19 states that have not yet done so; limiting the amount people need to spend out of pocket on health care; and creating a stronger primary care system.
It is a fact that Obamacare was an improvement over the system that preceded it. It is also a fact that Obamacare did not adequately address these two areas -- the high cost of healthcare, and the lack of insurance coverage for all citizens. The Democrats knew this, and they wanted to amend Obamacare to address those problems. Unfortunately, they lost the election. They will not be able to do that now.
Will the new Republican government address either of those problems? So far, they have not been able to come up with a plan to do that. They want to real Obamacare and "replace it with something better", but have proposed no better plan. What they have proposed -- allowing citizens to buy out-of-state insurance, and creating medical savings accounts -- will not address either problem. If they are able to do what they want, the cost of both insurance and medical care will continue to rise unabated and millions more Americans will be uninsured.
Senate Democrats will probably be able to block the repeal of Obamacare, but that won't fix the problems. We can expect, thanks to the outcome of the 2016 election, healthcare costs to continue to rise and millions of Americans will continue to be denied access to that healthcare. That's not a pretty picture, but it is all the new Republican government has to offer.