Americans are hardly a one-of-a-kind bunch. Based on any number of reports or studies, we seem to collectively line up on opposing sides as proponents and critics concerning just about any subject matter.
Except perhaps health care. We doubt at Mansell, Engel & Cole that a single one of our blog readers in Oklahoma or elsewhere knows even one person who believes that care costs are reasonable. In fact, a medical emergency can often yield a bill that exceeds a home mortgage, even for an insured policyholder. Notwithstanding the public’s flat lack of unanimity on virtually any debatable subject, health care stands apart as a topic inspiring one commonly held national view.
That is this: It’s just too expensive, and prohibitively so. And it is fundamentally wrong that what was once reasonably accessible to almost every American (if you’re young, ask your parents) is now so exorbitantly priced that legions of people who need care purposefully forgo it. They do so after a cost-benefit analysis that flatly reveals their simple inability to pay for it.
Who is responsible for that? Is there a single culprit that can be spotlighted and publicly spanked, with in-the-wake changes being made that will restore affordable care and still ensure a reasonable profit for medical industry participants?
We all know that the issues and problems are far too complex and deep-seated to allow for any easy answers to those questions. Fingers of blame can point in many directions, spotlighting actors ranging from drug makers, device manufacturers and facility management groups to politicians, aggressive industry lobbyists and providers with a profit-first agenda.
And, of course, insurance companies, whose charges for premiums, copays, deductibles and related out-of-pocket maximums consistently rise, to a breaking-point level for many Americans.
There are problems too relating to patient safety issues that are paramount and seemingly intractable within the care industry. A noted safety organization spotlighted them in a recent article. We think they are squarely relevant to care costs, and also to insurers’ failure to often act in ways that policyholders think they should in responding to claim demands. We will take a look at them in our next blog post.