The current American healthcare system has proven to be contributing to ongoing financial strain nationwide. Nearly 80% of Americans are struggling with debt, leading many to avoid medical care due to the incredible costs. However, it’s possible that the sky-high prices of American healthcare aren’t due to operational expenses, instead being a product of the healthcare system itself. Regardless of the cause, American healthcare prices have contributed to the nation’s rank as a place to live in falling.
American Prices Above Other Nations
While many conditions appear with similar frequency worldwide, others seem to occur more often in certain nations than others. Americans continue to struggle with chronic conditions connected to obesity in particular – according to the American Association of Diabetes Educators, there was a reported 30.3 million people living with diabetes at the end of 2017. Many people directly avoid seeking care or treatment for both chronic and short-term illnesses in the United States, strictly because of the extreme cost of doing so.
American healthcare costs have remained high for years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that American healthcare quality has improved or remained better than other nations. It is true that certain medical products and procedures are cost-intensive; just 2°C of temperature variation during shipping or storage could completely ruin a pharmaceutical product. However, that doesn’t seem to stop many other nations from finding affordable ways to care for their citizens. America consistently ranks among some of the most expensive care globally, partially due to a lack of transparency from hospitals and other medical care providers. Data shows that hospitals are by far the biggest cost in the $3.5 trillion healthcare system, where spending is growing faster than both inflation and wage growth.
Families Feeling The Pressure
For the poorest of Americans, this has created an unsustainable system that actively prevents them from seeking medical care when necessary. Most of the richest of the nation likely notice little impact on their quality of life; however, those already struggling to have other basic needs met are regularly unable to afford medical care. Many struggling areas already lack basic necessities, even including clean water. Only 3% of Earth’s water is fresh water, and despite the United States being among the wealthiest nations, large pockets of the nation often lack a reliable source of clean drinking water. This can worsen already existing health issues that then go untreated due to soaring care prices, creating a cycle of sickness.
Decreased Quality Of Life
All of these factors have ultimately hit the United States hard in recent years, even resulting in the nation’s relative quality of life falling. In a list of 64 nations ranked from best to worst to live in, the United States ranked 47th for the second year in a row in 2019. Some of the primary factors impacting this ranking included healthcare and cost of living. Some areas across the nation have run tests to see what can be done to limit the growth of healthcare costs, with intermittent success using methods like price ceilings and redirecting patients to more affordable providers. However, healthcare costs show no signs of slowing down in their rise, meaning this trend could very well continue into the near future.
Without serious healthcare reform or increased affordability of basic care, it’s likely the United States will continue to see ongoing health issues, particularly for its poorest citizens. However, the long-term outcome of these exorbitant prices remains to be seen.