Americans aren’t thrilled with the fact that health care costs continue to eat away at their overall take home pay. For those who have insurance through their jobs, deductibles have risen by an average 12 percent in 2016, or four times more than premium increases. For those who don’t have employer-sponsored health insurance, out of pocket spending amounts to $6,000 for individual policyholders and upwards of $13,000 for families before their insurance company picks up the tab.
While it’s problematic that deductibles are rising six times faster than wages, paying out of pocket for health care isn’t a bad thing. Yet society has grown accustomed to being blinded from the actual cost of care – which makes insurance companies, not patients, the true customers of health care. Insurance carriers are the ones that are buying services from hospitals, physicians, medical equipment providers, and other professionals in the field.
Sure, patients who have insurance may be subject to co-pays and co-insurance. However, the lack of consumerism and the largess of government price controls over health care services and health insurance is what keep high health care costs alive and well.
Some members of Congress are trying to make health care more like other sectors of the economy; that is, having patients (consumers) control how they spend their health care dollars – even for big ticket items. Consumer power drives market competition. It spurs innovation, and it pushes businesses to appeal to those shopping for their goods and services.
So, how can there be more of this in health care? Watch the Capitol Hill briefing video on a bill recently introduced by Senator Jeff Flake (R-Az) and Congressman Dave Brat (R-VA) that would expand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).