Feb. 17, 2017

Please enjoy this article from about the impact of U.S. healthcare costs featuring commentary from Marathon Health's National Director of Health Coaching Mary Meyer. 

The full version can be found hereBelow is an extended excerpt:

So that means insurance helps ease healthcare costs? Right?

That's certainly the purpose of insurance in our lives—or at least that's the sales pitch. However, on the industry level it's a complex story that intertwines government mandates with individual healthcare. For instance, President Obama's health care reform law, commonly called ObamaCare but officially called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) or Affordable Care Act (ACA) for short. Signed into law on March 23, 2010, enrollment in the program began October 2013. Approximately 8 million enrolled in PPACA that first term. Nearly 23 million people were enrolled in ACA as of January 2017, with 85% receiving financial assistance to pay for their insurance. Thus, as a direct result of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, we've had the largest reduction in the uninsured in four decades. That mean an estimated 20 million uninsured Americans gained health coverage.

Lack of Health Insurance Converage Graph


This result stems from both the diverse ACA provider offering and its mandate that Americans without some form of health insurance must pay a fine of about $700 per year.

This seems all good, the more people that have insurance the better, right? But like any benefit, there are also great costs. Our spending on commercial health insurance grew 4.4% to $991 billion in 2014, or 33% of total national healthcare expenditures, while out-of-pocket grew 1.3% to $329.8 billion, or 11% of national healthcare expenditures.

The average costs of company-sponsored insurance plans in North America were expected to rise 6.5% in 2016, 2 points less than 2015 because some 10 million Americans gained insurance coverage under PPACA, sharing the cost burden.

Increased insurance also doesn’t seem to be helping all Americans on the individual level yet. According to 2015 data, 26% of adults aged 18 to 64 reported trouble paying medical bills. The group included both insured and uninsured, with fully 20% of insured folks having trouble and 53% for the uninsured.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services show that 20% percent of a given population accounts for 80 percent of total healthcare expenditures. It’s such a very small population accounting for those high healthcare claims. Given this information, it’s important for employer-sponsored healthcare plans to have programs in place to work with employees with high health risks and chronic conditions because the data shows that when workers move out of the high-risk categories, others are already moving in.


Mary Meyer, National Director of Health Coaching at Marathon Health

Ok, we're spending a ton but the quality must be amazing - right?

You'd think with the trillions our country spends on healthcare, it would be the highest quality. But death and taxes aren't the only certainties in life, there's also that old chestnut "nobody's perfect". Truth is that although innovations abound, doctors are still human beings and thus, mistakes are made. Every year, approximately one in 20 Americans, or about 12 million people, receiving outpatient care are misdiagnosed. 78% of hospitals have evidence of unnecessary antibiotics administered for two or more days, resulting in potentially avoidable healthcare costs of nearly $13 million.

"One surprising healthcare fact is that there will be a huge demand for new nurses over the next 10 years, with over 1 million vacancies expected to open up by 2024 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The American Nursing Association says that 1M of the 2.7M registered nurses (RN) are currently over the age of 50. Demand for nursing services is rising as the population ages and lives longer with more chronic conditions. The American system must find a way to bridge this shortfall or it will be forced to make compromises: either higher cost or decreased quality of care."  

Ted Chan Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Caredash

In Conclusion

There are no easy answers when it comes to healthcare on the industry level. But if you move your body and eat your veggies you'll make a difference on the individual level. Progress has to start somewhere. Why not with you and me?

“The good news is that we know we can lower health risks back to normal ranges through healthy eating habits, exercise and smoking cessation. It’s incredible how quickly high-risk patients can become healthy once they commit to making lifestyle changes.”

Mary Meyer, National Director of Health Coaching at Marathon Health

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Topics: News Coverage, In the News