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Health care costs to surpass total income?
March 14th, 2012
03:13 PM ET

Health care costs to surpass total income?

Take a close look at the chart up above. It’s taken from a new paper, in the Annals of Family Medicine. If you believe the doctors who put it together, it tells one of the scariest stories you’ll ever hear.

The gentle upward slope represents the median income for an American family, projected through 2035. The lighter colored curve is projected average spending on health care - insurance premiums, and out of pocket costs.

With current trends, the authors say, in less than 20 years the average family will face medical costs that are higher than their total income. All of it.

Dr. Jennifer DeVoe, one of the authors, says she already sees the strain in her practice at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland.

“I see people who don’t eat, or don’t pay rent, so they can pay medical bills,” she says. “They can’t afford their medication, or in some cases, even a mammogram.”

The basic facts aren’t new. Health care costs have been growing faster than inflation since the government began to track them in the 1960s. Between 2000 and 2009, the paper says, the average annual increase in insurance premiums was 8%, while household income rose an average of 2.1%.

But some experts say the doom and gloom is overblown. J.D. Kleinke, who last month wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “The Myth of Runaway Spending,” points out that growth in health spending has been moving closer to the overall inflation rate, for the past decade.  He says the slowdown came because insurers and private companies introduced plans with higher deductibles and bigger co-pays at the same time the government introduced health savings accounts, where individuals can get a tax break to help pay for medical expenses.

“In the old days, people never questioned cost because they were basically given a blank check,” says Kleinke. “Industry figured it out and said, 'This is madness.' ”

DeVoe acknowledges the trend, but says what strikes her first, “is that these costs are still increasing.”

Whether you see health spending as a crisis, depends, in part, on your focus.

In 2009 and 2010, total spending on health care grew at a slower rate – 3.8% and 3.9%, respectively – than at any time on record. But even that outstripped inflation –  1.6% in 2010, and a negative 0.3% the year before.

At the same time, a larger share of the cost is being borne by individual families. According to a survey last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation, premiums for family health insurance plans rose 9%.

To Kleinke, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, shifting the burden is good and necessary.

“Because people feel the economic pain directly, they’ve actually changed behavior, and spending did start to come down.”

A wild card in all this is the Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare.” Critics say expanding health insurance to cover another 30 million people will send costs through the roof. But ACA supporters point to provisions meant to slow or reverse the growth in spending - especially an emphasis on preventive care, which is supposed to reduce the need for expensive hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

DeVoe says the ACA is a “great first step, but it’s not enough to get us where we need to go in terms of sustainability.”

Co-author Dr. Richard Young, who runs the country’s largest family practice training program, at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, points out that the new federal “comparative effectiveness” program - meant to compare the benefits of different treatments - is explicitly forbidden from considering cost, just as Medicare is forbidden from denying any “medically necessary” treatment, no matter how high the cost, or how small the medical benefit.

Young put it bluntly in an interview: “Until we’re willing to say 'no' to somebody, anybody, there is nothing to stop this inflationary pressure.”

Asked if the analysis isn’t deeply pessimistic, he said: “That’s right.”


soundoff (206 Responses)
  1. The American Plan: Don't Get Sick

    We are self-employed. We had a really good HMO plan with low deductible and low co-pay. In 2001 it cost us $750/month. Now, it is $2,200./month. Insanity. How many of you can afford $2,200/month? It is not difficult to believe that it will eventually exceed our income, as this article suggests.

    March 15, 2012 at 01:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pogojo

      you are only punished if you try and work hard, be lazy and everything is free.

      March 15, 2012 at 01:26 | Report abuse |
    • ProtectAmericanJobs

      We just got a notice that the cost of the healthcare coverage that we provide to our employees is increasing by 33% for those of us with the PPO plan and 36% for our employees who selected the cheaper HMO version of our plan. Yet our company has had to hold or reduce our own prices over the last 4 years and even going back into the late 90’s we were lucky if we could even increase our prices 3-4% a year. How do these insurance companies justify these types of increases? Last year was the only year that their increases were even close to within reason and that’s only because they were being challenged. If health insurance premiums increased double or even triple the rate of inflation we’d probably be able to accept it, but the ridiculous annual increase percentages over the past 10-12 years have been devastating to our business and our employees. Something needs to be done.

      I didn’t vote for President Obama and I know that the plan that they passed is not ideal, but at least he had the balls to take this issue on. I run a business that employs just over 20 people and neither our company nor our employees can afford this anymore. We’re paying 65% and our employees are paying the balance. About 15 years ago we were paying 100%, then about 10 years ago had to cut it to 75% and then a few years back to 65%. I consider myself an independent voter, but going back to the Reagan days and with the only exception having been Perot, I’ve always voted Republican. So I’m not a lefty, yet I believe that every U.S. Citizen deserves basic healthcare coverage.

      Also I find amazing that one thing that is constantly be ignored in these discussions, is the fact that the health care provided to uninsured illegals here in the states is being averaged into our hospital costs and our insurance premiums, which have proportionately increased along with illegal immigration over the last 20 years.

      March 15, 2012 at 01:55 | Report abuse |
    • KC

      A friend who has a congenital condition was asked to pay $2600 a month to insure one person. He couldn't afford it, so now he's on Disability and getting Medicare. Shameful that someone who WANTS to work is forced to quit in order to get affordable healthcare.

      March 15, 2012 at 09:26 | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      To protectamericanjobs, I was just going to post the same thing aout illegals. I work in healthcare and see this on a daily basis. They are the ones wo have no worries about healthcare costs. Disgusting.

      March 15, 2012 at 09:57 | Report abuse |
    • Tom Com

      I agree, my medical was $295 a month 5 years ago. Today the same plan is $800 a month

      March 15, 2012 at 22:59 | Report abuse |
    • Coflyboy

      ...and then there are those of us that don't think we need healthcare reform.
      ...and then there are those of us that think healthcare is "socialist"
      ...and then there are those of us that think 24% administration cost is acceptable.
      ...and then there are those of us that won't look at healthcare in other countries and ask:"how come THEY can make it work?"
      ...and then there are those of us that won't recognize that our healthcare system is as corrupt as can be.

      and then there are all of us that like to shoot ourselves in the foot.

      March 16, 2012 at 20:55 | Report abuse |
  2. Jase

    I lived in South Korea for 3 years and ended up in the hospital for 11 days from a nasty viral infection that got into my bloodstream. My total cost for my stay was around $1,100 (with 50% coverage from my school I was employed at). My medication after I left the hospital cost me a total of $10. There system is similar to the Canadian system. I didn't have to wait, I got right in right away and got treated right away. I wish people stop spreading lies about universal care, because that will be the only thing that will fix the problem here in the U.S. You take profit out of health care, we all benefit. If you leave profit in the equation, people will die. That's a sure fact.

    March 15, 2012 at 01:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mr Grumpy

      No profit: 1. No innovation in device design
      2. No innovation in drug development
      3. No motivation for the most qualified people to enter medicine
      BTW, the demographics of S. Korea are just a wee bit different from the US. (Oh, and I wonder where the antibiotic you used was developed? And why?)
      Naive.

      March 15, 2012 at 01:16 | Report abuse |
    • Jase

      Mr Grumpy,

      No profit: 1. No innovation in device design
      2. No innovation in drug development
      3. No motivation for the most qualified people to enter medicine
      BTW, the demographics of S. Korea are just a wee bit different from the US. (Oh, and I wonder where the antibiotic you used was developed? And why?)
      Naive.

      1. Completely wrong. Other countries have been doing a lot of R & D that have developed new devices (and drugs) in the medical field. Not ALL of it comes from the U.S. (If you want I can point you to the facts with real research)
      2. Almost the same point you made at #1. Just change drugs to devices.
      3. Again wrong. Doctors make a very good living in other countries. Plus, most countries PAY for their schooling, where here they'll have 80-100k in debt by time they finally finish their residency.

      The demographics don't matter. It's all just a matter of scale. Did you know 31% of medical costs are just in administrative fees from insurance companies here in the U.S.? Every other country with universal health care is under 5%. Want to know the reason why? Because there is NO PROFIT motive. I bet you didn't know that. I've done over 20 years of research on this topic, and if you want me to provide some of the research where you yourself can actually go educate yourself, I'll be happy to show you. But you better not state some baseless claims that you have no facts to back it up. Unless you're ready to back it up. I suggest you go educate yourself before calling people "naive".

      March 15, 2012 at 01:36 | Report abuse |
    • craig

      @ Mr Grumpy

      In fact, the entire problem is the PROFIT motive, not the lack thereof.

      Medical insurance companies exist to make money, not dispense health care. They could not care less about your medical condition, especially since "caring" would involve spending your premiums for services, and that directly impacts their bottom line. Whenever the discussion turns to a "single payer" system, often (wrongly) called Socialized Medicine, the most common complaint (or projected failure) is that someone in the government would be deciding about care. Well, let's look at that compared to today. Today, your insurance, assuming you have any, includes decisions by a "Plan Administrator" who decides what is and isn't covered, etc. However, this person works for a company who's goal is to make a profit, and any decisions that involves paying for your condition also involves lowering company profits for the company that employs him/her. Guess which way these decisions go! How could a government employee be any worse.

      March 15, 2012 at 01:56 | Report abuse |
    • Jase

      @ Craig

      The problem is that most Americans have never been out of the U.S. They haven't seen the other systems in other countries and how affordable the health care is over there. Other countries care about their citizens. They pay their health care taxes because they believe it's a right to have health care. You pay for the sick that are older than you, and when you get older the younger generation will pay for your care. They truly care about their own. Here in America, we only care about the profit. There is WAY too much money lost for big pharma companies and health insurance companies if we went to a single payer system. So, they spend a LOT of money lobbying our politicians to keep the status quo.

      Unfortunately, as described in this article, Americans will slowly wake up to this and hopefully force a change. ( I really believe that) But until that day comes, don't get sick, or you'll pay an arm and a leg for it or worse possibly die.

      March 15, 2012 at 02:07 | Report abuse |
    • KC

      I have relatives in a country with universal health insurance. The father is a doctor and the mother is a nurse, so if there were a problem with the system, they would have dissuaded the kids from medical school and pushed them toward lawyer or engineer. As Jase says, the country pays for their schooling, so they don't graduate mired in student loan debt. While our doctors are struggling to make those huge student loan payments ($2000+ per month), their doctors are free to spend that money growing the economy. And not one person in their country has ever had to file bankruptcy due to medical bills, nor been denied healthcare because they can't afford to pay for it.

      March 15, 2012 at 09:31 | Report abuse |
    • Kathy Burklund

      Yes, we do need universal health care. I cannot believe the people that are so against it. No brains.

      March 15, 2012 at 11:37 | Report abuse |
    • Coflyboy

      Mr Grumpy,
      Maybe you should take some time to look at the systems in other countries before you parrot words from people who stand to lose $$$ from healthcare reform. Reality is: If those systems didnt work, they would not exist. Stop being an id10t.

      March 16, 2012 at 21:01 | Report abuse |
    • Expat

      I had the same meritless ignorant views as this guy until I met my British husband and settled in England. I won't move back to America because I know our future kids will be safer, smarter, more tolerant, and healthier here than in the USA by a long shot.

      Even if my own experiences with healthcare comparisons in England were exceptional. My american friends, graduates from harvard and yale, work researching latest MRI technicques in the UK and the Netherlands and assure me they will never go back to the states but to visit family because of the superior everyday quality of life they enjoy here (citing their healthcare and healthier lifestyle as a primary reason). They explain to me that the hospital medical technology is the same here (UK, France, Netherlands at least) and that primary care is superior in that it focuses on proactive prevention vs. reactive treatment for lifestyle related diseases. Profit-motivated care is a dirty phrase in England. They echo my personal sentiments and experiences. My husband wasn't even sure of the differnces in the systems until he met me and saw it with members of our family on either side of the pond. The experiences of my family members left him sickened and quickly changed his idealized hollywood view of the USA. We are content to take our 4 weeks vacation to America to visit, with better quality health, and live a comfortable middle-class life in a modest house in England, rather than struggle to make ends meet for a bigger house to fill with useless junk, to the detriment of our health, pretending all along we are somehow superior to the rest of the world for it. We won't move back unless something drastic changes to make it comparable to what we enjoy here.

      March 17, 2012 at 07:24 | Report abuse |
  3. Mr Grumpy

    What two major aspects of the economy have risen at many times the rate of inflation? Higher education and health care. When did this begin, when the government became involved. Now we want to double down in both areas. The next two bubbles waiting to happen.

    March 15, 2012 at 01:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • paganguy

      In both cases the well to do is stealing from the rest of us with the help of the politicians

      March 15, 2012 at 01:17 | Report abuse |
    • Displacedmic

      That's exactly right.

      March 15, 2012 at 01:29 | Report abuse |
    • craig

      In fact, the cost of health care has risen simply because it can...and no one seeks to control it. In Detroit they are building a new hospital, although the existing hospitals are running at less than 50% occupancy. Why? Well, because the insurance company that's building it wants a bigger share, and they can charge enough to cover the costs of operating a nearly-empty building! These is no adequate cost regulation...and people don't have a choice about medical care...until they are forced to make a choice...eat or die. Some, sadly, are forced to chose dying.

      March 15, 2012 at 02:03 | Report abuse |
  4. paganguy

    I knew one millionaire who received a quad bypass operation at 85 costing $150 thousand to medicare and he died 4 months later from leukemia. What a ripoff.

    March 15, 2012 at 01:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sri

      Yes, you do, and you also need to inform your enlder. Your insurance will go up and you will probably need more liability insurance. Don't try and scam your way out of it by not telling the insurance company because if you need to file a claim for damage and they find out you didn't tell them you turned it into a rental, they will not pay on the claim.

      April 8, 2012 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
  5. James

    For my 50th birthday, my health insurance decided to give me a present. They raised by premium by an extra thousand dollars a year. Honestly how much longer will be have to put up wth this madness. My friend was on a visit to France and broke his leg. He went to the ER and got it fixed up and the bill for him without any insurance was 150 US dollars. Come on America, please wake up to this racket of For profit Health insurance companies before it bankrupts all of us.

    March 15, 2012 at 01:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jase

      Unfortunately, profit is the way America wants it. They scare you with terms like "socialized medicine" or worse yet to the uneducated will put us one step closer to "communism". There is big money in pharma and health insurance. If we moved to single payer system, big pharma would lose massive profits. Health Insurance companies wouldn't be needed anymore, so they'd go out of business. Did you know only 15% (on average) of pharma profits are actually spent into research? Most of it is spent on advertising/marketing (to keep you hooked on their drugs) and paying off their shareholders plus board members. Again facts don't lie, but the illusion to cover Americans eyes from the truth is real.

      http://www.actupny.org/reports/drugcosts.html

      Look at the chart mid-way down to see the facts.

      March 15, 2012 at 01:46 | Report abuse |
    • Kathy Burklund

      you are so right. We are a nation of greed. It must end.

      March 15, 2012 at 11:39 | Report abuse |
  6. pogojo

    Just quit your job, live in a tent and everything will be free. you are only punished if you try and work hard, just be lazy.

    March 15, 2012 at 01:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Eric

    Seem like Obama care isn't working out like he said it would. I remember Obama saying health care cost for individuals and families would come down. Why do Americans think we are better off with him as our leader? He has had almost four years to fix things but all I see is more of my money going out the window. I hope those who think Obama is the answer are prepared for what's to come when he's re-elected. God help our souls.

    March 15, 2012 at 01:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • El Diablo

      You mean the legislation that doesn't go into effect until 2014?

      March 15, 2012 at 01:35 | Report abuse |
  8. pogojo

    Boy this article was removed from the front page fast, bury it CNN

    March 15, 2012 at 01:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. DallasDog

    @Mr Grumpy – your point #3 gave me pause "No motivation for the most qualified people to enter medicine" Back in college circa 1975, the topic of socialized medicine came up. One of the guys in the house said "Why would I want to be a doctor if I can't make a lot of money?" At the time I thought that going to a doctor who was only interested in getting rich might not be in my best interest. I figured that if all the "get rich" folks stayed out of med school, and left some openings to caring people who want to help others, we might have some really good doctors.

    Well, he went to med school, made lots of money, married twice, divorced twice and 2 kids (not sure which wife or both). Convicted of insurance/medicare fraud in '92. Got a job at a bookstore in the local mall. "Accidental" suicide in late 90s. I heard that his kids didn't even go to the funeral and the pallbearers were the current pledges from the house.

    March 15, 2012 at 01:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KC

      Amen. I had one of those doctors who was only in it for the money. He really didn't give a d*** about my health; couldn't be bothered to do a little reading to figure out that my original diagnosis was right and his re-diagnosis was wrong. When the wrong pills (for a condition I don't even have) made me sicker, his solution was verbal abuse ("you don't want to get well!") rather than trying to figure out what WOULD help me. He wouldn't do the necessary (expensive) tests to prove that my original diagnosis was correct, because if he ordered those tests he might lose his cost-cutting bonus. Thank God I found, at a religious-operated medical group, a doctor who understands the word "Compassion" and put my health first; he literally saved my life.

      March 15, 2012 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
  10. ProtectAmericanJobs

    Devastating Health Insurance Cost Increases

    We just got a notice that the cost of the healthcare coverage that we provide to our employees is increasing by 33% for those of us with the PPO plan and 36% for our employees who selected the cheaper HMO version of our plan. Yet our company has had to hold or reduce our own prices over the last 4 years and even going back into the late 90’s we were lucky if we could even increase our prices 3-4% a year. How do these insurance companies justify these types of increases? Last year was the only year that their increases were even close to within reason and that’s only because they were being challenged. If health insurance premiums increased double or even triple the rate of inflation we’d probably be able to accept it, but the ridiculous annual increase percentages over the past 10-12 years have been devastating to our business and our employees. Something needs to be done.

    I didn’t vote for President Obama and I know that the plan that they passed is not ideal, but at least he had the balls to take this issue on. I run a business that employs just over 20 people and neither our company nor our employees can afford this anymore. We’re paying 65% and our employees are paying the balance. About 15 years ago we were paying 100%, then about 10 years ago had to cut it to 75% and then a few years back to 65%. I consider myself an independent voter, but going back to the Reagan days and with the only exception having been Perot, I’ve always voted Republican. So I’m not a lefty, yet I believe that every U.S. Citizen deserves basic healthcare coverage.

    Also I find amazing that one thing that is constantly be ignored in these discussions, is the fact that the health care provided to uninsured illegals here in the states is being averaged into our hospital costs and our insurance premiums, which have proportionately increased along with illegal immigration over the last 20 years.

    March 15, 2012 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. marvin radden

    I pay 600.00 dollars a month for health insurance for me and my wife.And another 200.00 dollars a month for my wife's medications.And i do this on 10.00dollar an hour salary.That,s half my income I spend on medications and health care right now.
    So this article really hits home with me.But I keep plugging away.Obama care has not reduced me and my wife's healthcare costs.

    March 15, 2012 at 02:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • guest1

      Obamacare hasn't begun yet. PLEASE educate yourself!

      March 15, 2012 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
    • ser

      I'm American...I live in Canada...I am married to a canadian and have 2 kids..I work and Have what you call "socialized medicine". I also have private insurance....the cost to cover my family per month is 16.00 dollars...per month and that is only for medications, eye exams, and dentist. crazy to think that right wing southern fanatics who are scraping buy still listen to there so-called right wing leaders spill on about how communism and socialism will ruin their lives...16.00 dollars folks...and i have no worries...

      March 15, 2012 at 12:36 | Report abuse |
  12. rntravelgnome

    As the name shows, I am a healthcare provider. I am on the front lines of healthcare, working in an emergency room. Over the past 5 years, I have watched our patient population skyrocket. The majority of patients are those who are no longer working and have no insurance or those who are working and cannot afford insurance. The refrain is always the same- I can't afford the upfront cost of seeing a private physician. I have heard of office managers asking for as much as $500 upfront for a referral visit that we made for a surgeon. No money upfront, no visit to the doctor. Doesn't matter what the issue is, doesn't matter that you might have a serious condition that needs more care than can be given in an ER. No money upfront, no MD visit. We deal daily with drug shortages for common, everyday medications used frequently in the ER. The reason: Big Pharma isn't making a profit anymore on some of the most common drugs, so they are scaling back manufacturing them. Come to the ER because you are vomiting- you might leave feeling better, you might not. Depends on whether this week we have the drug in stock that is used most frequently to stop your vomiting. Come to the ER because your blood pressure is dangerously elevated- well, we might have the drug most frequently used to lower your BP and we might have to scamble to find a vial somewhere in the hospital. While this is going on, the nurse is praying you won't stroke before we can find it. No profit. Healthcare in this country is completely ruled by profit. Know why your insurance premiums are going through the roof- just take one look at the NASDAQ ticker and somewhere on there you are going to see the name of your insurance company and the amount being traded that day. The premiums are going up because Big Insurance lost a bundle in '08 and they need to make it up. Sarah Palin made headlines a couple of years ago when she denounced Obamacare, scare mongering about "death squads" and such. Well, guess what? Your doctor has just told you you need a very expensive, experimental cancer treatment if you want to save your life. Your insurance company has the right and will almost certainly refuse to pay for the treatment, I don't care how many years you have paid premiums. If you don't have the upfront cost, you won't get the treatment. Insurance death squads have been around a lot longer than ole Sarah has been.

    March 15, 2012 at 06:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • What Now

      Thank you. I am so tired of hearing "death squads and obamacare". It has worked well to keep the truly uninformed riled up so that insurance companies and Pharm. can continue to control healthcare and make huge profits. What people should understand is this is about money. Insurance companies don't care about you...it's all money. As soon as people figure that out, the sooner we can have some sort of universal healthcare and move our country forward. I am tired of having to wait on my insurance company to decide if I get the tests and surgeries I need. That should be between me and my doctor.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:25 | Report abuse |
    • fidgetwidget

      Let's be clear here about your (absolutely true) assertion regarding what the MD's office manager requires before the patient is seen...The doc makes that rule, so the blame lies clearly in the doc's lap. Yeah, yeah, I get it about business, but the bottom line, when the patient walks through the door of a physician's practice, the doc is the one who makes the rules.

      Regarding the rest of your post: Again, absolutely true and one of the reasons I left the healthcare game....

      March 15, 2012 at 10:28 | Report abuse |
  13. MAXinAZ

    If it means that we need to have healthcare similar to other countries, like Canada, just so people can afford it, then I'm all for it.
    The GOP hasn't done anything as far as I can tell. All they want to do is to go back to what it was. And what it was, was already broken.

    March 15, 2012 at 06:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Larry

    I have a friend in the hospital, that recently had a stroke. When I entered the hospital, all I could see was marble, cherrywood furnishings, halogen lighting, flowers all over the place, persian rugs, coffee and doughnuts, and all the fixings, that I really questioned why all this was needed. I understand having a nice, clean place to be ill, or get better, but all this is out of line. This is part of the HIGH cost of medical. Included with the law suits, etc., etc.. The outside lights were on, thus a higher electricity bill that we have to pay for. This isn't just with hospitals, the USPS can't pay their bills, but they keep buying new trucks and they too have been seen leaving the lights on during the day, I realize that this may seem petty to some, but when a person makes min. wage, and has to pay for medical insurance out of this plus all their bills, it's not so petty.

    March 15, 2012 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. lara

    These health insurance companies are guilty of price gouging and extortion. We only need to enforce existing laws to put an end to the nonsense.

    March 15, 2012 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. kgt

    If Obamacare remains in effect and does not get repealed next year, then I'll be forced to file for bankruptcy. It's that simple. Autism costs our family about $50K per year. Obamacare is actually making our situation worse by REDUCING what and how much can be deducted as medical expenses on income taxes.

    March 15, 2012 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. guest

    There is no way the cost of health care will exceed household income. It can't happen because the entire system will collapse first. There will be meaningful reforms when we are left with no choice. Same goes with education. The only reason education is so high is because of student loans, and the breaking point with those is being reached. As soon as we get to the point where parents cannot afford to send their children to school, the whole system will be reformed.

    March 15, 2012 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. JoJo

    Thankyou Obamacare.

    March 15, 2012 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CN Red

      It hasn't even been fully enacted yet.

      March 15, 2012 at 09:58 | Report abuse |
    • Carolina

      Yes, as a matter of fact there is There is a dcisounted health benefits program that enables you to see a chiropractor anytime you wish. The plan is only $19.95 per month and comes with Dental, vision, prescription of course Chiropractic care. There are more than 7,500 participating doctors. There is a free initial consultation and there is a 50% savings on all diagnostic services required x-rays. 30% savings on treatment and most other services. No limit on number of visits and there is a toll free number to locate participating network chiropractors. If you want more info, please contact me.

      April 8, 2012 at 02:14 | Report abuse |
    • Claudio

      Yes. Ins premium, dtcoor visits, prescription drugs, contact lenses, and necessarily surgery or purchases are deductible. Over the counter drugs and unnecessarily surgery like boob jobs are not.You add them all up, substract any medical reimb and thats your medical tax deduction. but it is limited to 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income (which is your income adjustments), so if you make too much money you most likely cant take the benefit. If you want to save more money, add in you over the counter drugs.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:51 | Report abuse |
  19. fidgetwidget

    I don't go to the doctor anymore unless I'm so sick I can't move. Every time I even think about it, that insurance premium and 20 percent co-pay (yes, 20% of the cost of the visit ONLY if the full charge is what the insurance company deems "reasonable and customary"). What is charged by the provider is never within the insurance company's "reasonable and customary", so I'm left with the co-pay and whatever else the insurance company chooses not to pay. I'm not even going to get into prescription plans. Bottom line: If you live in America – for crissake – don't get sick. You can't afford it. I know I can't.

    March 15, 2012 at 10:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Archy

      You are not responsible for the overcharges from your doctor. When your doctor entered into a contract with your insurance company, they jointly agreed on the "reasonable and customary" charges. If you get a bill for over the amount of a service covered under your insurance, you need to call your doc's billing service and remind them that balance billing is illegal and that you are not responsible for this balance. If they persist, tell them you will be talking to your insurance company and your lawyer. And then do just that.
      It angers me that hospitals and dr.'s offices keep doing this. Sending a bill for a balance (that is over and above your co-pay and your percentage) is a sneaky way to get money from people who have already paid their part. And they know they are doing it. Just use the words "balance billing" and they immediately back off.
      Good luck to you.

      March 15, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse |
    • medschoolkid

      Unfortunately your mindset is one of the factors that increases health costs. If you only visit the doctor when you are seriously ill they cannot help you with preventative care and treatments. For instance if you went for regular checkups your doc might tell you that to help with your high blood pressure you could take a daily low dose aspirin or even a cheap generic blood pressure prescription. Yes you will have to pay for the visits and the meds but if you will significantly decrease your risk for a stroke or heart attack. I assure you the hospital bills associated with a serious stroke or heart attack cost more than 10 lifetimes of daily low dose aspirin.

      March 15, 2012 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Richard Young

      Medschoolkid,

      I co-wrote the article that was the source for the CNN article. I hate to tell you that you are wrong about the role of prevention in saving healthcare costs. It's one of the common myths the Government Industrial Medical Coalition (GIMeC – I pronounce this "gimmick") has foisted on the American people for decades. GIMeC has convinced Americans that seeing ologists for the majority of their care is best, early detection cures everything, and more treatments equal better care. Until we confront these myths we will never reduce healthcare costs.

      I was working on a book when I ran across Dr. DeVoe's original study. The book is called American HealthScare and is available on all the major websites. Here is one link: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=richard+young+american+healthscare&x=0&y=0

      March 20, 2012 at 00:17 | Report abuse |
    • Nil

      It is mostly a anesorpl decision. I prefer a large company with a local office staffed by a professional agent who I can speak with face to face in case I have a claim or a question. I dislike playing phone tag with a mindless voice on the telephone or a computer robot. Often those e insurance quotes are low balled to get your business and then later the rates will be raised. You don't necessarily have to visit each agent. use the phone, get quotes, then choose the best one for you (not necessarily the cheapest quote)

      April 14, 2012 at 14:17 | Report abuse |
  20. John

    America is in trouble because they left their root heritage....Christians WAKE UP.....Take back America, bring it to its knee's and then God will heal our land.

    March 15, 2012 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Coflyboy

      and pigs will fly!

      March 16, 2012 at 21:09 | Report abuse |
  21. Katz

    Obamacare will be the killer for this country! They said it will cost much more than predicted. Canada has a national healthcare, and yet a lot of those people come to the US for their medical needs. Why? Go ask Mrs. Clinton who had her friend from Canada come to the US for breast surgery. Ever been to a county hospital? That will be how all the hospitals in the US will be like. Hours in the emergency room, sometimes weeks turn to months to see a doctor. That will be for the people of the US, of course the illegals get their healthcare paid by us taxpayers so Obama can win the next election. The goverment people have a totally different insurance, they will not be on the same healtcare Obama is giving the rest of us. But you goofy fools believe whatever this clown says. Good luck with that!

    March 15, 2012 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Archy

      Regarding your question, "Have you ever been to a county hospital". Yes, I have – when I had an emergency and no insurance. There were no frills there, but there sure as heck were incredible doctors there. I imagine that because county hospital doctors see the widest range of problems in the largest cross section of society, they have pretty much seen it all. These people know what they are doing and I trust them. Not only that, they are probably not the profit-driven people who care more about an up front payment than about making sure you stay alive. I like being alive, and I have county hospital doctors to thank for that.

      March 15, 2012 at 12:07 | Report abuse |
  22. Voltairine

    This is just one of the vast number of indicators that the Monetary-Market System or MMS is going to fail and must fail, in order to finally be replaced with a Resource-Based System or RBS. The MMS, which served us relatively well (although completely dog-eat-dog and F everybody) has become this especially toxic, maniacal, malignant, diseased, cold, anti-human ... thing rampaging around the world strangling the life out of Democracies, crushing people to death, and anything else that dares to stand in the way of this cybernetic juggernaut. How much more evidence do you need? I guess more. Well don't wait too long because they'll stop referring to you openly as "human resources" to "Soylent Green". See, "Zeitgeist: Addendum", and, "Zeitgeist: Moving Forward".

    March 15, 2012 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sick n tired

      Everyone should watch Zeitgeist: Addendum and Zeitgeist: Moving Forward. Very compelling....

      March 15, 2012 at 12:33 | Report abuse |
    • Voltairine

      If you have the staying power, see, "The Money Masters", the full version on YouTube. If you don't have the staying power, there are also, "Capitalism Hits the Fan", by Prof. of Economics Richard Wolff, PhD, also on YouTube (he doesn't start his talk until after his 7 minute introduction; there is also, "Crises of Capitalism", by Prof. David Harvey on YouTube as well.

      March 15, 2012 at 12:54 | Report abuse |
  23. medschoolkid

    Universal healthcare is not the answer. There are three major problems with today's healthcare system that drive up costs: Inefficient administration systems, unethical insurance policies, and frivolous malpractice lawsuits. A major cost reducing idea that seems to be overlooked all the time would be smart insurance cards. When your insurance company issues you an insurance card they would give you a smart chip card that has all of your medical history and patient data on it. It would also contain billing and coverage information for the vast majority of procedures/visits. All the doctor or nurse has to do is swipe the card to display all your patient history, and swipe it again to immediately get reimbursed by the insurance company and update any new patient history. Simple, cheap, effective and would eliminate the 25-30% in healthcare costs associated with patient records and hospital billing departments.

    March 15, 2012 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. sick n tired

    What health care? I have had to cancel appointments because I know my health extortion company won't cover the visits/tests and sure can't afford it.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. rms

    The only ones who benefit from the current health care system in the United States are the insurance and pharma companies. Try working 30 or 40 years of your life (and the majority of that time while your were young and healthy) then look towards retirement and oops you are no longer covered by a company/employer provided health insurance. You better plan on adding the cost of another mortage payment each month. This is stupid. The doctors don't get the profits and those with "compassion" spoken of in some of these posts are going bankrupt themselves trying to provide for patients they are trying to help. Get rid of the lobbiest and big money interests in Washington and start doing something to help the people of this country survive. You work all your life and one way or another they rig the system so that in the end you have to give them all your money for medical care. The current road we are on will only continue this insanity. Keep in mind, even the elderly have to pay for insurance Medicare is not free like some try to make you believe. It is affordable and so far the current suggested solutions to reform Medicare will only lower payments to the doctors who in turn will refuse to take Medicare patients. So eventually only the rich will be able to afford medical services in this country. Sad truth.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Harry

    America is an immoral country for this. If there is a God, surely he will punish us severly for this.

    March 15, 2012 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. J Geheran

    If you think this report is scary, wait til you see the soon to be released Fed doc on the real cost of the " Affordable Health Care Program" (aka Obamacare). As if proof were needed to substantiate the immutable fact that every government inspired/run program will be financially unsustainable over the long-term – and this one is barely off the ground.

    March 15, 2012 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. me

    I am from Europe – HealthCare in America has always been a very scary thing to me. If your are rich, you can afford the best in the world; if you're poor enough, you're safe – most of it is provided free of charge to you. But if you are in the middle or just borderline poor and have to chose between paying your medical premium or eat, you're stuck in the mud with no way out. And like the article says, it will only get worse. And this is America. Incredible!

    March 15, 2012 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
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  30. Bill A

    My sister was out working with the horses when she lost control of her right leg. She started to get control of the leg back and went to a local clinic with a friend to be checked out. They wanted her to go to a hospital to be checked out and were going to call an ambulance to transport her. She asked the question, how much is it going to cost and where are they going to take me ? The clinic staff could not answer her. It was going to take 20 minutes for an ambulance to respond to a non-emergency transport versus a 10 minute ride by car. She got the number for the ambulance company and called asking what a trip would cost. She was put on hold and then told the trip would be between $900 and $1150 and they would decide in route what hospital to take her to. Got to the ER and was admitted to the hospital for observation. Since they did not find any problem in the ER, they placed her in the ICU for intense monitoring for a possible stroke. Cost for the stay $24,000. Cause of the problem – a spastic nerve in her upper leg. That stay was for a single day

    March 16, 2012 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. DavidW

    Health insurance is no longer a good value proposition – people are paying way more than they use. Why not just pay for your healthcare in cash? You'll get a better value. So what if it was easy to shop around like Amazon.com for healthcare? Take a look – 2 ER doctors saw healthcare was being done all wrong and are trying to find a way to fix the system: http://www.konnectmd.com

    March 18, 2012 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Dr. Richard Young

    I'm one of the co-authors of the study mentioned in this CNN post. I'm pleased that this post generated so much thoughtful response. I have many reactions to the threads, but here are two in particular:

    A lot of the comments gave great examples of how patients are paying higher out-of-pocket costs, but few talked about deeper underlying forces making healthcare exorbitantly expensive. The percentage people pay in out-of-pocket costs compared to the total cost hasn't changed much over the last 15 years. You're paying a lot more for healthcare because healthcare costs a lot more each year.

    Not many suggested what we could cut out of the healthcare system to make it more affordable, except for extreme examples such as ambulance rides and ICU stays for a pinched nerve. We must have a deeper discussion about what services should even be supplied in the first place. Many myths are rampant about the true cost-benefit trade-offs inherent in any healthcare system. For example, prevention rarely saves healthcare costs, even in the long run. In healthcare, the aphorism should be "An ounce of prevention costs a ton of money."

    I recently finished a book that discusses the difficult truths we must confront to make our system more affordable and more fair called American HealthScare. It's available on all the major websites. Here is one of the links: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=richard+young+american+healthscare&x=0&y=0

    March 20, 2012 at 00:29 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.