Health Costs Increase 9% in 2010


With the oil spill rightly taking center stage these days, discussions of health issues have faded from the spotlight.   But costs continue to increase, even when nobody is looking.  A recent report estimates costs going up by 9% in 2010, with 42% of companies passing those costs along to employees, often in the form of higher deductibles.

An increase in deductible costs, while a burden, is an opportunity for consumers (patients) to start looking closely at what they are spending, and what they are receiving in return.  The lack of this deliberation is what economists refer to as ‘moral hazard’, which is one of the primary drivers of esclating healthcare costs.

Most caregivers are not accustomed to discussing costs and benefits of treatments with patients.  Its not formally taught, and it is avoided because of the uncomfortable issues this type of discussion can bring up.  The third-party insurance system makes it easy to avoid this dilemma by both parties;  we provide the care, and the payments come indirectly through the employer in the form of insurance premiums.

Once patients start questioning  the costs of care, doctors will have to provide answers.  At first, not many will be able to do so, especially those in institutional practice settings where they may not have easy access to this information.   If patients are going to be shouldering more of the costs of their care, it is only fair to be able to provide them with honest information to help them make the choices that are in their best interests.

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