Higher out-of-pocket costs are adding to the woes of those suffering from heart attacks.
Having a heart attack cost consumers who either did not have insurance or chose not to use it an average of $1,200 in 2009. The same medical phenomenon costs a patient $1,600 in 2017, a 33 percent increase in 7 years, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Higher out-of-pocket costs are not relegated solely to those without insurance. Kaiser Family Foundation found that individuals who have insurance through their employer are also paying a greater share of the medical expenses out-of-pocket.
One of the troubling things about the current trend is that it comes during a steady period of wage stagnation. Hourly wages for middle-income individuals grew at a depressing annual rate 0.2 percent over the past 30 years, and fell 5 percent for low-income workers during the same period. It is therefore increasingly difficult for consumers to meet the costs of the health care needs, especially in emergent, unexpected situations like a heart attack or stroke.
There is another underlying problem here: even if consumers had the funds to cover the cost of their care out-of-pocket, they would never be able to find out the cost of care upfront. Unlike nearly every other facet of the economy, health care completely obfuscates the market such that consumers have no chance ability to shop around or make important health care decisions based on market-established prices.
Typically, when a patient in the U.S. asks what the cost of a given procedure or treatment will be, they are met with one question: What insurance do you have?
Price gouging is so pervasive in the health care market because the cost to the patient is not set, it’s determined by “how much can be extracted from each patient on a case by case basis,” Steven I. Weissman, Florida attorney and former hospital president, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Effectively, what Weissman is spelling out is there is no base price for any service in the industry. Because billing rates are not set and publicly listed, the industry is essentially able to prey on patients at their most vulnerable state. (RELATED: Former Hospital Chief Sending Trump Petition To End Predatory Pricing In Healthcare)
Having no legitimate pricing is easily one of the largest and most pervasive problems with health care in America, and the chief reason the market is obfuscated. Instead of being set by normal market forces like supply and demand, health care prices in America are set behind closed doors by federal regulators and insurance providers.
Americans have seen the cost of their health care skyrocket more in the past year than any other time since 1984. Adding to consumers’ woes, the rising cost of obtaining insurance on the exchanges has become almost prohibitive. (RELATED: This Surgery Center Provides A Menu Of Options At Set Prices)
Another factor making it difficult for consumers in the health care market is that health care literature available to them is almost unanimously tailored for health care executives, and not necessarily for doctors delivering the services or for patients.
Medical school and various other programs fail to adequately train medical professionals with the necessary tools to make the system navigable for the patient, The New England Journal of Medicine reports.
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