It has been the Holy Grail for government policymakers and the average American citizens for decades – finding a way to reverse the ever-increasing price of healthcare. Costs for seeing a doctor, getting treatment, a hospital stay or buying prescription drugs have become ruinously high for thousands of individuals and families.
In fact, an editorial published by David Himmelstein in the American Journal of Public Health reported that as many as 500,000 people a year declare bankruptcy due to health care bills. These figures are derived from a Consumer Bankruptcy Project survey.
How can the situation be reversed? Can health care costs increases be halted or even reversed? Here are some solutions:
Let U.S. Medicare Negotiate with Big Pharma
In most other modern nations, prices for identical prescription drugs are a fraction of what they are in the United States. The difference is that most of these nations have government-sponsored health care programs that have the ability to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. That cannot be done in the United States.
If Congress passes a law to allow Medicare to wheel and deal on what it will pay for pharmaceuticals, the result could be $54 billion in saving on drug costs. Negotiating for Medicare would, in turn, drive down the cost of all drugs across the board, experts say.
Move to Value-Based Care
Value-based care is when hospitals and doctors get paid based on outcomes, rather than charging anything they want whether a patient gets better or worse. Value-based systems are already being implemented in some areas and the results are striking. It has led to a decline in hospital admissions by 18%, according to stats provided by UnitedHealthcare.
Move Over to Lower-Cost Lab Testing
Many clinics and hospitals use labs to do things like analyzing blood tests even when they can get the same service of the same accuracy and quality from a cheaper medical lab. Insurance companies are encouraging health care providers to find more cost-effective lab work providers. This will bolster competition and force high-cost labs to moderate their fees for services.
More Virtual Care
Consulting with a doctor via a remote computer screen connection rather than an in-person visit to a clinic can cut medical expenditures significantly. Experience with “telemedicine” systems shows that they save time and actually improve patient-physician interaction. It may also save up to $1,500 per visit.
Furthermore, 25% of respondents to a recent UnitedHealthcare survey showed said they prefer a virtual doctor visit over an in-person visit.