Before industrialization, medicine was something that was practiced by many different people with many different results. As science began to show people what worked and what didn't when it came to treating different problems, medical science became more consolidated and professional. Religious organizations that had long worked to help people began to open hospitals, helping people who needed health care access it regardless of their ability to pay.
At some point, medicine became big business and insurance companies came to help run it. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a very expensive solution to administering health care to people. And, while the vast majority of industrialized countries have abandoned for-profit healthcare systems, the United States continues to mix business and medicine with mixed results.
There are several defenses to continuing to operate a for-profit healthcare system in the United States. Research and development is the main reason to keep health care profitable. Many drugs and treatments are developed by researchers in the United States, funded by the costs of selling drugs and treatments already used successfully. The main idea is that without profit, researchers could not fund their research and bring new drugs and treatments to market.
In the United States, health expenditure represents more than 18% of GDP and is increasing. In other industrialized countries, healthcare spending averages 8.8% of GDP, less than half of what we spend in the United States. And our health outcomes are no better than the rest of the world, and in some cases, actually worse.
Cancer survivors are 2.5 times more likely to file for bankruptcy after their treatment than the general population. It has even been reported that hospitals have even asked patients to create GoFundMe accounts to pay for their treatment.
People with chronic conditions like food allergies and diabetes are in an even tougher position. EpiPens are vital tools for people with severe allergies, many of whom are children. The devices were first manufactured in the 1970s for military use, but eventually became available for civilian use. In the early 2000s, a set of two EpiPens cost less than $100. When the device was bought by a new manufacturer in 2007, the price started to increase. Now the same medicine in the same auto-injector pens costs over $600.
Diabetics are in an even more difficult situation. When synthetic insulin was first invented in the early 1920s, the inventors chose to sell their patent to drug manufacturers for $1 so it could be made available to anyone who needed it. It's simple to make, and the process hasn't changed much over the decades. Worldwide, the average cost is 2-10 dollars.
Unfortunately, the cost of treating diabetes has increased dramatically over the past decade. Between 2012 and 2016, the cost of treating diabetes rose by nearly $3,000 a year, leading many diabetics to ration insulin. Some died because they could not afford the drugs they needed to save their lives.
Even people without chronic disease are affected by the high cost of health care. One in three Americans have delayed seeking treatment for themselves or a family member because of the high cost of health care. Between 2007 and 2014, the cost of hospitalization increased by 42%, while outpatient costs increased by 25%. The cost of doctor visits only increased by 6% over the same period.
In the United States, the health insurance industry is larger than the five largest technology companies combined – the five largest health insurance companies brought in $787 billion last year, while the five largest tech companies brought in just $783 billion.
See also:The Future of Health Insurance and Health Care:What Everyone Needs to Know
The skyrocketing cost of medical care causes people to delay treatment or ignore the advice of their doctors, which leads to another problem. Delaying care results in 125,000 preventable deaths each year, and medical non-adherence costs between $100 billion and $289 billion a year.
The United States is the only industrialized country that manages its healthcare system this way. Learn more about the social impact of mixing business and medicine below.
Source:Center for Social Work Degrees