The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

December 15, 2013

Affordable health care elusive

WHY IT MATTERS: Changes by health care providers and our own lifestyles have a better chance of achieving affordable health care.

Even with the advent of the Affordable Care Act, many Americans still say they are putting off medical treatment because of cost. To them, it’s not affordable.

In a recently released Gallup poll, it was found that even those who are insured cite out-of-pocket costs in foregoing medical treatment including Medicare (22 percent) or private health insurance (25 percent).

It also found that the percentage of Americans putting off treatment for a serious condition because of cost has increased since the early 2000s.

“One possible explanation for the higher numbers since then is the increase in the number of high-deductible plans,”Gallup notes. “Americans with serious conditions who have insurance may be putting off treatment to avoid high out-of-pocket costs.” It has been noted in some news reports that health insurance options available with ACA are affordable because the low monthly premiums are being offset by higher deductibles.

So it would suggest that even with health care insurance coverage, we are still going to see many Americans putting off needed treatment because of costs.

It also noted that with the ACA, “the possible uptick in the number of Americans seeking medical treatment may put additional strain on the healthcare system, creating new problems.”

Clearly, the ACA is not an answer to curbing the rise in health care costs and this has been noted in the past by many health care providers.

In an interview with CNN Money, Mayo Clinic chief Dr. John Noseworthy acknowledged that America’s health care spending is growing faster than GDP and said some lawmakers are suggesting there should be less paid for each unit of work.

Noseworthy said that’s not the whole answer. “We’re spending too much on health care because it’s fragmented and the quality is so uneven in our country.”

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