How Can You Reduce The Total Health Care Cost?
Over the years, spending on services related to health care has seen skyrocketing growth. Given our lifestyles, we are more prone to various kinds of diseases and issues related to health, this has increased our spending in this sector. Health care costs can refer to any cost related to dentistry, pharmacy, midwifery, nursing, medicine, optometry, psychology, audiology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc. It includes any cost that is incurred while providing primary care, secondary care, and tertiary care. The cost of the services that come under health care has also seen a growth spurt. While the cost of services in other sectors is decreasing, a reverse effect is seen when it comes to the cost of healthcare-related services.
Few reasons why the cost of healthcare services are rising:
1) Medical Professionals Are Rewarded For Doing More
Medical professionals are given under the fee service system for prescribing a test or a medical procedure. This results in them going greedy and suggesting unnecessary tests, medical procedures, and far more expensive medicines. This behavior causes the medical expenditure for families to increase.
2) Expensive New Drugs, Technologies, And Procedures.
Advancement in technology increases the longevity of our lives and makes our lives healthier, but at the same time, it also increases the cost of these services. The growth and advancement in the medical sector, in turn, leads to rising costs.
3) Ambiguity In Information So Customers Are Not Able To Make Fully Informed Decisions About Medical Care And Its Cost
There is a lot of ambiguity in information when it comes to medical procedures and their cost. People are not well informed about things like what kind of treatment is needed and what are the different options available to them. This misinformation sometimes leads them to pay way more than the alternative option that would have cost less.
4) We Are Falling More And More Sick
There are various statistical figures which indicate that we are falling sick very frequently because of our lifestyles. The unhealthy eating choices that are predominated with junk and fast food, our hectic and stressful lives coupled with our lack of exercise in addition to that the toxic climate and weather conditions are causing too many health issues.
The rising costs of health services coupled with the growing need for these services is so severe that it is pushing people towards poverty.
Health care frauds affect the consumers in these three ways
- It raises the cost for insurance companies, which in turn increases the premium amount for everyone.
- Most people don’t look at the cost because the insurance company pays them, often doctors that prescribe a procedure are not well aware of the cost, thus this lack of transparency leads to high cost of services.
- When the cost of the fraud is passed on it leads to the additional budget deficit.
Research finds a link between increased medical costs and poverty
According to a study published in the British Journal, 55 million Indians were pushed into poverty because of out of pocket expenses related to their health. 38 million from them were pushed below the poverty line due to spending on medicines alone.
The study mentioned states that non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes and other heart diseases were accountable for the largest chunk of spending on medicines by the household. The study also suggested that amongst the non-communicable diseases, various kinds of cancer resulted in the most catastrophic expenditure for the household.
Health expenditure is considered catastrophic when it accounts for more than 10% of the household income. It was also mentioned that in the case of road traffic and nontraffic injuries, the expenditure was more catastrophic for the poor.
The effects of the rising cost of health expenditure are seen all over the world. In the year 2013, 56% of Americans struggled to pay for health care. Which is to say, one in every five American adults. Out of 56%, 10 million of them had health insurance, but they still struggled to pay the deductibles. 8.9% of the Americans couldn’t pay the bills.
Of those who had trouble paying their medical bills, 73% of them skimped on buying groceries, clothing or rent. Sixty percent of them used up their life savings. More than 40% of them took on extra work to pay the bills.
People also cut back on taking their prescription medicines because they can’t afford the expenses. It is estimated that almost one in four cut back on taking the prescribed amount of their medicines.
There was a case where women couldn’t afford 1200 dollars worth of insulin so she cut back on taking the necessary intake which led to her diabetes getting worse.
Numbers suggest that 30% of the people postpone the follow-up appointment and their conditions worsen. In 2015, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there were approximated 1 million adults who declared medical bankruptcy.
A Nerdwallet study conducted in 2013 found that almost 30% of people maxed out their credit cards and 8% of them were forced into bankruptcy because the illness cost them their job.
The numbers are even worse if we see the world health situation. According to the joint report published by the World Bank and World Health Organization in the journal Lancet Global Health, suggests that each year an estimated one hundred million people are pushed into extreme poverty as a result of their expenditure related to health services. There is an estimation that for this population, their income amounts to mere 1.9 dollars a day after covering their health bills.
According to the same study, an estimated 3.5 billion people that account for more than half of the world population are simply forced to skim through the most and basic essential needs.
This lack of capacity in paying the bills also leads to inhuman treatment of the patient, according to the report released by London based Chatham House, in cases where a patient can not afford the treatment, it is common for hospitals to detain them until their families can cough up the money. They are in the so-called medical prison, this is not only inhuman, but also illegal, thus coming up with a number to understand how widespread the practice is difficult, but there is an estimation that hundreds of thousands of people are subjected to this every year. This problem is most prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Although there is a serious intervention needed by the government to regulate the health care sector, there are a few steps that you can take by yourself to reduce the cost of health care.
1) Save Your Money On Medicines
Instead of consuming the doctor prescribed’ brand, switch to the generic version of the same medicine. They have the same active ingredients but don’t cost as much. You can even research on alternative medicines that can treat the same diseases but costs less. In addition to all that, make sure you take your medicines the correct amount and at the right time so it has a positive impact.
2) Take Care Of Your Health
The best way to save money on health care is to take care of your health. Exercise regularly and eat healthy food. If you have a family history of diabetes, and even though you still don’t have, it is a smart idea to keep your distance from sugar. Similarly, monitoring your weight and blood pressure and level of essential minerals and vitamins in your body is also very important. Taking precautions and being aware of your body can save good money on costly tests and treatments. Also, if diseases are detected at an early stage, it is much easier to deal with them.
3) Choose Your Health Plan Wisely
Every individual has different kinds of health needs, make sure you choose a plan that can benefit you and your health. Do a thorough research about the provider and the benefits. Take your time to choose your plan, understand what all is available in the market and what suits your requirements the best.
4) Be More Informed
There are various government benefit programs and other drives related to health care that are ongoing. There are various institutions and funded trusts that offer various services (certain treatments and tests) at a very discounted rate. In addition to that, there is a major price variation for certain treatments that people are generally unaware of. Research about your health problems in advance, find our things that you can do on your level to prevent your condition from worsening. There are various subsidies offered by the government on various treatments and medicines, one should be aware of them.
5) Plan Ahead for Emergencies
Always set aside an emergency fund in case you encounter any health-related emergency. Choose your insurance policy wisely and be thorough of the terms and conditions for the same. Various countries also offer a health care savings account and flexible savings account. These accounts help you with saving for your medical expenses on your pre-taxed income.
Some other ways you can ensure you are not overcharged for your hospital bill are:
- Ask for an itemized bill
- Review bills for errors
- Negotiate with the staff for fees
All in all, the expenditure for health care services are rising and out of pocket expenditure is increasing, but being aware of the different benefits program rolled out by the government, choosing your insurance wisely and in addition to that, taking good care of your health and staying up to date about your health condition can help you reduce on the health care expenditure.