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Health Care Costs: The Facts

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

                                             Photo:Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee

I’m sure my fellow college students have some to little awareness about why health care costs are rising.This is such an incredibly important topic to understand because we are running full speed into this part of our lives.Soon, we will no longer be under UNH’s health insurance or our parent’s.Understanding where our health care system is at this point in time is crucial.So, did you know that by the year 2021, Health care spending in the United States will reach $4.8 trillion?That will equal one fifth of our country’s economy.In 2011, 49 million Americans were without health insurance.Employers could not afford health insurance premiums.Yes, the health care reform will provide insurance to millions of Americans, but the costs are continuing to rise.

So what are  six reasons these costs keep rising?

1)  Hospital care- The rising costs of goods and services, such as workers, information systems, and information systems.Also, 60% of patients are on Medicare and Medicaid, which may affect how much a hospital gets reimbursed for care.Also, many patients cannot pay for their care in which case, the hospitals view it as charity care, which they do not get reimbursed for.

2)  Doctor Visits- If you choose an out of network doctor, you will most likely have to pay more out of pocket expenses.However, the average cost of a doctors visit is $158 for existing patients, and $171 for new patients.

3)  Medical Technology- Robotic technology is becoming increasingly popular.36% of hospitals are performing robotic surgeries.They can improve quality of care but are boosting costs up for the patients.Advancements in technologies cost more.For example, a MRI costs more than an X-Ray.For example, some spine MRIs at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital in NH cost, $3,693. In St. Louis the average cost of a MRI is $998. In New Jersey, the average cost of a MRI is around $470. The costs vary depending on the part of the body needing a MRI.

4)  Lab Tests- 51% of laboratory representatives believe that labs will be much more in demand in upcoming years.Why?Because the population is growing older and people are focusing on individualized lab data to adhere to their genetics. A complete blood count (CBC) test can cost between $15-$105. Prices can vary widely across locations.

5)  Drugs- 80% of prescriptions are generic drugs.It takes a while for a drug to go off patent and a generic version to arise, so people are forced to use the name brand until the generics arise on the market.The cost difference between generic and name brand drugs is substantial.I was prescribed a name brand drug once that cost $400 and it’s generic was only $70!

6)  Health Plan Administration- Insurers will set higher premium rates and deductibles depending on the number of insurance reimbursements they paid out the prior year if the reimbursements were higher than anticipated. 

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