Right now, voters are worried about inflation and rising fuel prices, but they ignore the imminent threats to their healthcare. American healthcare continues to be under assault, and unless we address these issues, a severe health issue could bankrupt families.
THREAT 1: OBESITY AND DIABETES
Being overweight is becoming the new normal in America. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than seven in 10 U.S. adults aged 20 and older are either overweight or obese. Obesity costs our health care system $147 billion per year, yet there is a movement underway to tell HCPs not to weigh patients during routine visits.
Type 2 diabetes is a direct cause of the obesity epidemic. 37.3 million Americans—about 1 in 10—have diabetes. About 1 in 5 people with diabetes don’t know they have it. 96 million American adults—more than 1 in 3—have prediabetes. More than 8 in 10 adults with prediabetes don’t know they have it.
Diabetes and diabetes-related health complications can be severe and costly. The seventh leading cause of death in the United States, diabetes costs $327 billion in medical costs and lost work and wages. People with diagnosed diabetes have more than twice the average medical costs that people without diabetes have.
THREAT 2: WOMEN’S HEALTH
U.S. women have the highest rate of maternal deaths among high-income countries, while Black women are nearly three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women are. But maternal deaths and complications may be a bellwether for the U.S.’s broader failures with respect to women’s health and health care.
Among women of reproductive age in high-income countries, death rates from avoidable causes, including pregnancy-related complications, are highest in the United States. U.S. women of reproductive age are significantly more likely to have problems paying their medical bills or skipping or delaying needed care because of costs.
Over one-quarter of women of reproductive age in the U.S. and Switzerland spend USD 2,000 or more in out-of-pocket medical costs compared with less than 5 percent of women in the U.K., France, and the Netherlands. These high costs can discourage women from seeking needed medical care.
Half of women of reproductive age in the U.S. reported skipping or delaying needed care because of costs. U.S. survey respondents were significantly more likely to report missing care than respondents in other countries. In the Netherlands, only 12 percent of women said they had forgone care for cost reasons.
THREAT 3: RISING HEALTHCARE COSTS
According to a new Survivor Views survey from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), a majority of patients and survivors say they were unprepared for the costs of their care both in terms of their ability to pay for it (54%) and in what they thought it would cost (64%). More than 70% of respondents said they made significant lifestyle changes to afford care, including delaying important purchases (36%), depleting most or all of their savings (28%), going into more credit card debt (28%), and borrowing money from relatives and friends (20%). Eleven percent reported taking out another type of loan, borrowing from a payday lender, or refinancing their homes to afford care.
Launch prices of new cancer drugs in the U.S. have substantially increased despite growing concerns about the quantity and quality of evidence supporting their approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Thirty-seven thousand three hundred forty-eight patients who received one or more of 44 new oral targeted cancer drugs, the proportion of patients receiving medications without documented overall survival benefit increased from 13% in 2011 to 59% in 2018, accounting for 52% of the $3.5 billion estimated cumulative spending on the new oral targeted cancer drugs by the end of 2018.
Health spending totaled $74.1 billion in 1970. By 2000, health expenditures had reached about $1.4 trillion, and in 2020 the amount spent on health tripled to $4.1 trillion. Health spending increased by 9.7% from 2019 to 2020, much faster than the 4.3% increase from 2018 to 2019. The average annual growth in health spending from 2010-to 2019 was 4.2%. Total health expenditures represent the amount spent on health care and related activities (such as administration of insurance, health research, and public health), including expenditures from both public and private funds.
One reason for rising healthcare costs is government policy. Since the inception of Medicare and Medicaid—programs that help people without health insurance—providers have been able to increase prices.
The United States spent more than $3.8 trillion on healthcare in 2019 and exceeded $4.1 trillion in 2020, according to a study by the Peterson and Kaiser organizations.
While the media is focused on drug costs, which are a problem, only 12% of every healthcare dollar is spent on prescription drugs. In contrast, hospitals receive $1 out of every $3 spent on health care. Across America’s acute care hospitals, total revenues exceeded expenses by more than $64 billion in 2016, according to a Center for American Progress analysis.
Allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries and people enrolled in private plans – a critical cost-saving proposal in the Democrats’ massive reconciliation bill – is favored by large majorities across political partisans, even after they hear arguments from both sides, a KFF Health Tracking Poll finds.
Initially, 83% of the public said they favor allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to lower drug prices on behalf of people enrolled in Medicare beneficiaries and private plans. This includes 91% of Democrats, 85% of independents, 76% of Republicans, and majorities of seniors (84%), who would be most affected by such a provision.
Any reasonable person understands that healthcare in this country is out of control and unsustainable while we keep spending trillions on defense.