Everyone has a healthcare horror story.
A hidden charge on the hospital bill. A last minute test or scan that ends up costing four figures. Hours spent on the phone with insurance companies to follow up on a claim and get a reimbursement. Prescriptions costing hundreds of dollars.
And it’s getting more expensive.
Since 2007, the cost of healthcare has risen 21.6 percent, while all other prices in the economy have risen by just 17.3 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
It’s become an unfortunate reality for many, and it’s been rightly pushed into the arena of politics.
But despite the well-intended reforms of the past two decades, including the Affordable Care Act, millions are still feeling the pinch. Why?
Too often, talk of healthcare reform is focused on insurance rather than care. It’s less about how the doctor treats your family and more about who foots the bill. Almost no one can get a straight answer about the price of procedures or medicines.
Medical insurance, once a simple way to cover higher-than-normal expenses, has become a catch-all for almost all health spending. It’s no longer about surprise injuries and illnesses. Insurance is now used to cover every ache, pain, anxiety, pill, and more. It’s like using car insurance to cover every oil change, new windshield wiper, or tire.
And in order to recoup the amount they give out, insurance companies must price their options accordingly, which leads to higher prices for consumers. That’s why healthcare expenses in 2016 amounted to 17.8 percent of GDP, higher than any other industrialized country.
At least one new doctor-patient arrangement is promising a revolution in consumer choice by bypassing insurance altogether. It’s called direct primary care, and it’s catching on across the country.
Rather than relying on insurance for ordinary health expenses, these new doctor clinics rely on monthly fees from patients, usually less than $100.
If anything more is required during doctor visits, the prices for every service and test are transparent and don’t vary depending on your plan. By not accepting insurance of any type, each clinic saves on administrative costs and overhead, prioritizing patients over costly insurers.