Unaffordable Healthcare in America
by Stephen Lendman
Healthcare in America costs double what consumers in other developed countries pay. Proper coverage is increasingly unaffordable for millions.
Obamacare made a dysfunctional system worse. Trumpcare, if enacted in its present form, will be more nightmarish, discussed in previous articles.
The misnamed Affordable Care Act (ACA) left around 30 million Americans uninsured, most others underinsured.
Trumpcare assures higher costs for less coverage, putting even greater emphasis on profit-making over people needs than already.
Underinsurance is the new normal. ACA reduced the number of uninsured from 50 to 30 million. Coverage afforded is full of holes, a boon to predatory providers, potentially disastrous for low-income and poor Americans.
Replacing private insurers with a single-payer system would save hundreds of billions of dollars annually on wasteful paperwork.
The money spent is unrelated to treating illnesses, diseases and injuries – enough savings to provide universal coverage, free from onerous co-pays and deductibles, healthcare the way it should be, a fundamental human right.
by the Center for Health Policy, Schaeffer Initiative for Innovation in Health Policy, published on March 9, estimates the American Health Care Act (AHCA – Trumpcare) will cause widespread “coverage losses associated with curtailing federal funding to Medicaid expansion states.”
It says Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scoring “will likely estimate that at least 15 million people will lose coverage under (Trumpcare) by the end of the ten-year scoring window. Estimates could be higher, but…unlikely (to) be significantly lower.”
ACHA benefits industry predators along with young, healthy and wealthy Americans – at the expense of the nation’s most vulnerable and elderly.
According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
(CRFB), tax breaks for business will eliminate an estimated $600 billion in tax revenue over the next decade, added to annual deficits and national debt if not compensated for by other means.
Radically restructuring Medicaid and reducing subsidies for millions of low-and-middle-income households assures less protection in case of serious health issues.
In the last half century, US healthcare costs rose exponentially. Affordable coverage became increasingly unaffordable for growing millions.
Inability to pay medical expenses is the leading cause of personal bankruptcies in America, including for households with health insurance.
Short of bankruptcy, over 20% of aged 19 – 64 Americans struggle to pay healthcare-related expenses – because of high-deductibles, co-pays and what insurance doesn’t cover.
The ability to afford proper healthcare in America is increasingly out-of-reach for millions. Proposed Trumpcare makes a dysfunctional system far worse.
An earlier article explained how healthcare in America became increasingly unaffordable.
In 1960, it was 5% of GDP, 15% in 2002, 17.9% in 2011, expected to exceed 20% by 2020.
A single-payer system would halve the percentage by eliminating wasted insurance expenses, and let government pay for products and services at much lower prices than currently.
From 1960 – 2016, annual per capita US healthcare costs rose from $147 to around $10,000, an astonishing increase, far exceeding inflation.
In 1942, Christ Hospital, NJ charged $7 per day for a maternity room. Today it’s around $1,500.
In 1980, a typical US hospital room cost $127. Today it’s multiple times higher. See below.
A 2011 survey of 11 Ohio hospitals found daily hospital room prices ranged from $688 – $2,425. Cost averaged $1,393. The median price was $1,322.
An average emergency room visit today costs more than a month’s rent in America. Hospital room charges and related expenses average over $4,000 daily.
America’s most expensive hospitals charge more than $12,500. Bills of $2,000 or more follow simple medical procedures.
Prescription drugs used to be cheap, a small fraction of today’s prices. Insurance providing good coverage was once affordable. No longer.
High healthcare costs force many Americans to make financial trade-offs, including skipping doctor visits and prescription drugs to pay rent and other expenses.
Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “(e)veryone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
Americans can have whatever they want provided they’re able to pay for it. Millions can’t afford essentials to life like proper healthcare.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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