The High Price of Health Care in America
If the U.S. health-care sector was a separate country, it would be the fourth largest economy in the world when measured by gross domestic product. Currently, the nation spends an average of $3.5 trillion annually on health care, more than Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom combined.1
If you break that down by how much we spend per capita compared to other countries, it looks like this:2
- U.S.: $10,246
- Australia: $5,331
- Germany: $5,033
- Canada: $4,754
- Japan: $4,168
- United Kingdom: $3,858
- Singapore: $2,618
It’s also worth noting that more Americans die by preventable and treatable medical conditions than in those countries, as well.3
This is one those expenses that can make it tough for consumers to save money. One reason is because health care pricing isn’t transparent. Even if you shop around for a low-cost procedure in a hospital, you’re still likely to get hit with other separate charges. For example, the expense of an out-of-network anesthesiologist who happened to be working on the day of your operation. Most patients do not get the bill they were expecting, and it often comes a few months down the road. Another reason we have a hard time curbing spending is that U.S. health care doesn’t benefit from the normal principles of capitalism. Without greater transparency of fees, there is very little competitive pricing that would normally help drive costs down.
Health care is expensive whether you’re still working or retired. There are several ways to help you save in case you have excessively high health-care costs in the future, such as a health savings account or a whole life insurance policy that allows you to tap into a growing cash account. If you’d like to learn more about flexible ways to save or help leverage assets for high care costs, please contact us.
The U.S. health care coverage problem is reaching its peak in the midst of a perfect storm: Among the millions of Americans who lost their jobs, 41% also lost their health insurance.4 Gilead Sciences, the maker of the remdesivir drug that has proven to be an effective treatment for COVID-19, announced it would price the medication at $3,120 per course for U.S. patients with commercial insurance. The price tag for other developed nations is $2,340 per patient.5
The growing cost of health care in this country is hardly a new issue. Little effort has been made toward reform of this divisive, partisan issue, and now that infection hot spots are continuing to pop up throughout the country, the coronavirus has exposed further flaws in America’s health care system. These range from the lack of a cohesive national plan, to poor federal stockpiles of supplies, to supply chain problems in manufacturing and distribution. America’s health care problems go far deeper than simply running out of ICU beds in hospitals.6
After the next set of elections, and once we’re hopefully beyond this pandemic, the effort to reform our national health care system will likely be a top priority in Congress.
1 Jeneen Interlandi. The New York Times. June 29, 2020. “Employer-Based Health Care, Meet Massive Unemployment.” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/29/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-medicare-for-all.html. Accessed July 10, 2020.
2 Huo Jingnan and Pranav Baskar. NPR. June 13, 2020. “Pandemic Perspective: What The 20 Poorest And Richest Countries Spend On Health Care.” https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/06/13/864563401/pandemic-perspective-what-the-20-poorest-and-richest-countries-spend-on-health-c. Accessed July 10, 2020.
4 Robert Preidt. U.S. News & World Report. June 23, 2020. “Pandemic Job Losses Leaving Many Americans Uninsured: Survey.” https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-06-23/pandemic-job-losses-leaving-many-americans-uninsured-survey. Accessed July 27, 2020.
5 Michael Erman, Ludwig Burger and Manojna Maddipatla. Reuters. June 29, 2020. “Gilead prices COVID-19 drug remdesivir at $2,340 per patient in developed nations.” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-gilead-sciences/gilead-prices-covid-19-drug-candidate-remdesivir-at-2340-per-patient-idUSKBN2401C8. Accessed July 10, 2020.
6 Jordan Davison. EcoWatch. July 9, 2020. “America Faces a Critical PPE Shortage, Again.” https://www.ecowatch.com/us-ppe-shortage-coronavirus-trump-2646373026.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1. Accessed July 10, 2020.
We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.
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