What are the 8 main contributors to rising health care cost in the U.S.?Health Care

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Sandra Scott | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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What are 8 contributing factors to the rise in healthcare costs in the United States today?

Well, there are at least 8 contributing factors to the rise in healthcare costs in America today.  In 2011, average premiums rose 8% for individual coverage and 9% for family coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

1.  Some of the reasons for rising healthcare costs apply to all patients, and others only to patients who get insurance through big insurance plans.

2.  Factors driving up hospital costs include the rising costs of goods and services used for patient care.  A patient pays for every doctor, nurse, nurse assistant, equipment and informational system, down to every Tylenol taken and every soda received.

3.  Hospitals are also seeing a huge increase in the cost of hospital care for patients who are simply unable to pay or will not pay.  Hospitals still provide the medical treatment needed as they feel duty-bound to do so.

4.  The cost to see a regular MD/physician has risen nearly 1.5% over the past year because, physicians who accept insurance have very little "wiggle room" to recoup higher costs since they are locked into certain rates with the various insurance companies they accept.

5.  Insurers are also forcing patients to pay much more out-of-pocket if they choose a physician who is not in their network.

6.  New technologies are growing rapidly.  These high-cost procedures may improve the quality life, but they also increase the costs for the patients drastically!

7.  Another contributing factor to the rise in healthcare costs is a rise in chronic diseases.  It has been estimated that Healthcare costs for chronic disease treatment account for more than 75% of the national health expenditures.  There has been tremendous focus on the rise in rates of the obesity problem in America.  Obese people can develop more chronic illnesses very easily!  So, money is initially spent on the obese problem and, later on the additional, more chronic illnesses caused by the obesity.

8.  Administrative costs is a contributor but not one that would immediately come to mind.  About 7% of healthcare expenditures are estimated to go toward the administrative costs of government healthcare programs and the net cost of private insurance.  There are many across our nation who argue that the mixed public/private system creates overhead costs and large profits that are fueling healthcare spending.

Some other things to consider are as follows:  (a) There are drug companies out there that successfully push the use of their most expensive drugs; (b) Insurance companies that primarily care about making money for their owners and senior executives; and, (c) Hospitals that want to fill beds, especially ICU beds, and aggressively market the newest and most expensive technology, tests, and treatments that patients often do not need!

As the nation struggles with a faltering economy, healthcare costs will most definitely continue to be at the forefront of policy debates.