It may seem strange, but in the United States the ability to access medical care is tied to the ability to maintain a 40-hour a week job where health insurance is a benefit or to be married to someone who does.
What’s more, accessing healthcare depends on purchasing insurance, which profits from denying users access to healthcare. It’s a really strange backward system, and while it is intended to curb healthcare costs it actually has caused them to balloon.
The United States spends 18% of its GDP on healthcare, compared to 8.8% of other OECD countries, and that figure is rising.
Is it possible that profiting from denying people access to healthcare is actually costing the United States more money than just paying for everyone to access healthcare would?
The cost of healthcare in the U.S. continues to rise to the point that the five top health and pharmacy insurance companies are worth more than the top five tech companies in the country.
In just seven years, healthcare spending in the U.S. will reach $6 trillion a year if things continue on the same course. And that figure was calculated before the pandemic sent the entire healthcare system into a tailspin.
Despite this extraordinary spending on healthcare, the U.S. struggles to maintain adequate supplies of crucial medical supplies and equipment to address those suffering from COVID-19.
Insurance companies have squeezed hospital profits to the point that they can’t afford to order more than they will use. Decades of on-demand ordering have rendered medical supply closets barren, and healthcare workers in the U.S. are reusing N95 masks and other personal protective gear so that can continue to treat patients.
PPE like N95 masks are also growing increasingly difficult to come by because other countries are able to afford to spend more to get them, while the tariffs on China have made them less affordable for the U.S. healthcare system. To make matters worse, the Federal government is undercutting state governments in their procurement efforts.
Because even having access to healthcare carries with it a barrier to entry in the form of costly health insurance, by the time workers pay premiums they often can’t afford to use the healthcare they pay to have access to.
As a result, one in three Americans say they or a family member have delayed in seeking medical care because they were afraid they couldn’t afford it.
The problem with not seeking medical care because you are afraid you can’t afford it is that not getting care earlier can end up costing more in the long run. In the U.S., treatment non-adherence costs between $100 billion and $289 billion each year, further driving up the cost of healthcare and putting treatment even further out of reach for most Americans.
There is a measurable social impact to the way the United States does healthcare, and Americans are the ones paying the price. Learn more about the high cost of healthcare in the U.S. and how it impacts overall health from the infographic below.