2020 Higher healthcare costs and business as usual

SUMMARY: Relief, in lower healthcare costs, is not coming next year and in fact may be getting worse. While rising healthcare costs are sure to be included in any political debate voters are going to get angrier that their paychecks are being eaten by rising deductibles, hospital costs, and rising drug prices.

Public healthcare company CEOs still heavily favor Republicans. Researchers at Harvard Law School and Tel Aviv University found that CEOs of the 1,500 largest US public companies donate “disproportionately more” to the Republican party and its candidates, with the median CEO directing 75% of his or her political contributions to Republicans. They also found that Republican-leaning CEOs lead companies with almost twice the asset value of companies led by Democratic-leaning executives.

And lobbying money is already leading to benefits. The end of the so-called “HIF” is an election-year gift to the health insurance industry, which has for years been fighting to put off or get Congress and the White House to repeal the fee, which was part of the Affordable Care Act.

The end of a health insurance fee will eliminate more than $15 billion in taxes that were expected to be levied on insurers including big players like Anthem, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealth Group. In the meantime, the cost of private health insurance is out of control, compared to Medicare and Medicaid. You see that clearly if you take a long-term view of recently released federal data on health spending.

Pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, insurance companies, and medical device manufacturers practically ran the table in Congress, winning hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks and other gifts through old-fashioned lobbying, re-exerting their political prowess.

  • A bipartisan bid to rein in prescription drug prices failed to advance, as Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) blamed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for blocking the effort.
  • A bipartisan push to curb the practice of surprise medical billing was delayed until next year.
  • Pharmaceutical firms also won extended protections for select patents, as lawmakers tucked 17 words into Page 1,503 of a bill that critics allege could amount to billions more in profits for the industry.

For a nation that spends more on healthcare per citizen than almost any other, America isn’t exactly reaping the rewards. Life expectancy has climbed steadily over the course of the last few decades, but in recent years it’s taken a troubling turn in the other direction.

The most recent report’s data from 2017 shows that the trend from the past few years is continuing—life expectancy has gone down. We hit our peak in 2014 at 78.9 years, but since then we’ve dropped down to 78.6. That might not seem like a lot, but the trend has experts on notice.

Add all this up and it means higher healthcare costs and politicians that aren’t willing to tackle the issues of an inefficient healthcare system. I hope none of you have to go to the hospital because if you do you’re probably going to get hit with charges you didn’t expect because of politics.