Broken, one word that can describe the health care system that Americans have to deal with when they seek a medical professional’s treatment. Over one in four Americans age 18-64 reported that they have trouble paying off medical expenses. If that sounds bad, a 2016 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that medical debt was responsible for half of the bankruptcy filings (Max Fay). There are multiple reasons for this, and unfortunately there isn’t just one solution that can fix the whole system. With high medical costs, complicated insurance policies, and health care providers not being able to give an accurate cost idea of a procedure, it is easy to see why people are struggling. Solutions won’t pop up overnight, but the first step to solving any problem is to make sure to thoroughly know what the problem is.
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First off, it is important to understand a bit of the problem leading up to today. An analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics was conducted by Erin El Issa in 2019. She found that on average the average household income has increased by 30% over the past 10 years, but the cost of healthcare has increased by 33%. Since 2015, medical insurance has also become more expensive. 10% more Americans saying are saying that they have trouble paying their premiums, 9% with deductibles, and 7% were strongly affected by having more copays and the cost of prescription drugs(National Bankruptcy Forum).Even if people have good health insurance they still may be struggling to pay for health care. If people can’t pay right away they may put the bill on a high interest credit card, and not being able to shop around for the best care provider for the cost can also lead to some unfortunate decisions. Healthcare for Americans has never been perfect, but the higher costs have slowly been sneaking up on us for a number of years now. Just like there is rarely one way to solve a problem there is rarely only one cause. A lot of little things have added up throughout the years to get us to where we are today.
Consider the fact that Americans borrowed 88 billion dollars last year to pay for medical expenses. If that doesn’t prove that this is a nationwide problem, know that 27% of democrats and 21% of republicans alike have reported having trouble paying medical bills, and one in ten adults even put off treatment due to the costs back in 2015. Even though for Americans medical related debt is a nationwide problem, people in their late 20’s and early 30’s are hit the hardest out of anyone. In 2017 people from 25 to 34 on average earned just over $40,000 a year according to CNBC. Also in 2017 insurance deductibles could be as high as $7,150, (Amy Fontinelle), which doesn't leave young adults with much room to pay for life’s necessities throughout the year.
Without any changes to the way that things are done, medical expenses with get progressively higher and higher. Karen Zraick wrote an article and 77% of Americans surveyed said that they were worried about all the medical debt, and how it could potentially ruin the economy. If people can’t afford to pay their bills, people will buy less in general, which means less sales for businesses, so people will end up losing their jobs and may not be able to pay their bills. The longer this cycle continues, the harder it is to get back on the right foot, and it could very well ruin the economy. Changes to the way insurance and healthcare is run would be a good way to try and get America back on track.
In short, over the past few years healthcare costs in America have been rising higher and higher. More Americans are having trouble paying medical bills, and it affects the way many people live their lives. If things aren’t changed it could affect the United States’ economy, impacting people all around the world. Things may not happen overnight, but striving to get better is always a good goal. People being a bit more informed with the situation can and will help solve it.