Healthcare is starting to cost an arm and a leg, with U.S. spending reaching over 18% of GDP and rising. Maybe you’re thinking that doesn’t sound so high? That’s almost 10% more than healthcare spending for countries in the OECD. Healthcare has become so oppressively expensive that many are opting to abstain from care even when they need treatment, minorities and other vulnerable groups make up the majority of those affected. Now amid the Coronavirus crisis healthcare will be not only expensive but difficult to acquire because of quarantining measures and scarcity of supplies.
Business or Medicine?
In recent years Americans have witnessed on average a 20% increase in their health spending, and that is only counting people with insurance. Those without may be spending even more, or worse, avoiding care completely. We have already seen such attempts to avoid or adapt treatment.
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From 2009 to 2016 the cost of Epipens, a device that delivers a dose of epinephrine to manage the life-threatening effects of anaphylactic shock, grew from $100 to $600 causing some to hold on to old prescriptions past the point of expiration, or stop obtaining the life-saving drug altogether.
For those who face death without medicine, the costs are soaring. From 2012 to 2016 insulin prices caused diabetics to spend $2,841 more each year for treatment. There doesn’t seem to be relief in sight, with healthcare spending projected to reach $6 trillion a year by 2027.
Costs Less Known
The social costs of healthcare having a business bent are much higher than financial strains. Each year delaying or avoiding care leads to 125,000 avoidable deaths, with 26,000 dying due to lack of health insurance. The more vulnerable among the population suffer more deaths, making healthcare exceedingly more businesslike in ideology and approach, reducing people to probabilities and numbers. Nearly 9 in 10 of the uninsured are nonelderly adults, with minorities making up more than half of all uninsured.
The situation was dire for many before the onset of COVID-19, but now as the pandemic spreads, hospitals are dealing with critical shortages in equipment. Nearly 1 in 4 hospitals have fewer than 100 N95 masks on hand 1 in 5 hospitals report an immediate need for more ventilators In Feb. the FDA reported drug shortages related to Coronavirus. The strategic stockpile of N95 masks maintained by the federal government is also insufficient, with just 10.5 million of the estimated 300 million the country will need.
Healthcare has been under-serving some, now with difficulty abounding due to the Coronavirus, the system will have a hard time serving most.
Learn more about the social costs of mixing business and medicine below.