Affordability of healthcare is a big problem. This was further confirmed recently when researchers from Harvard and the John F. Kennedy School of Government (R.J.B.) presented study subjects with a list of domestic issues, and asked them to indicate how much of a problem each was.

“Respondents ranked affordability of health care first, with 70% saying it was ‘a very big problem’ (Pew, September–October 2018)… More than half (53%) of Americans say the cost of health care affects their own household’s financial situation ‘a lot’ (Pew, March 2018). Forty percent say they’re dissatisfied with the total amount they pay for care (Gallup, 2018).”

-New England Journal of Medicine, nejm.com, July 3, 2019

There’s no doubt about it— healthcare costs are a tremendous burden. Unexpected visits to the hospital, chronic conditions requiring expensive medication, and common accidents can result in monetary stress that changes the life of a household. 

Americans are starting to realize that medical care and medications shouldn’t have to cost so much. The cost for the same procedures and the same medications vary dramatically in other countries. Furthermore, prices vary dramatically from state to state, and even within a single metro area.

Savvy healthcare consumers and policymakers are starting to demand price transparency, so that people can choose more affordable care. And people are beginning to realize that just because it costs less, doesn’t mean it’s lower quality. This is probably driven by the fact that about three fourths (76%) of the public believes that Americans are paying too much for most care they receive, relative to its quality, another finding of the research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

 

Policymakers, including the president, hope that by increasing price transparency, costs will begin to come down. Adding some consumerism and competition to the medical marketplace is a smart idea. Even now, the lack of price transparency has allowed hospitals and clinics to charge whatever they want, because consumers don’t have what they need to make informed decisions.

In their research, the study authors found that when it came to ways to lower costs, 67 percent think that having the government facilitate competition among health care professionals and hospitals based on price and quality is a good idea. And 65 percent of people that that the government should establish limits on what healthcare professionals and hospitals can charge.

Top Ways to Reduce Healthcare Costs

What respondents said:

  1. Disease prevention
  2. Price transparency
  3. Price limits

Increasing cost of medical care is a driver of increasing premiums.