The high cost of healthcare in the United States has been a topic of concern for many years. Despite spending more on healthcare than any other country, the outcomes in terms of life expectancy and overall health are not commensurate with the expenditures. In fact, the United States spends 40% more on healthcare than the average annual cost of 30 industrialized nations, yet the life expectancy is 1.1 years less than the average of these countries (Masters, 2009).
Traditionally, it was believed that the high costs were due to consumers utilizing healthcare services excessively. However, recent research has indicated that the main driver of healthcare expenditures in the United States is the high pricing of healthcare services (Gross and Laugesen, 2018). This means that higher costs are not leading to better outcomes for the people of the United States.
There are several factors contributing to the high healthcare costs in the United States. One major factor is the pricing practices of insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Insurance companies have been able to increase premiums and deductibles, leading to higher costs for consumers (Gross and Laugesen, 2018). Additionally, pharmaceutical companies charge exorbitant prices for brand-name drugs, which account for a significant portion of healthcare costs (Seeley et al., 2018).
To address these issues and make healthcare more affordable in the United States, stricter guidelines and regulations are needed for insurance pricing, coverage, and medication costs. By limiting the ability of insurance companies to capitalize on consumers and controlling the pricing of medications, healthcare costs can be slowed down or even reduced. This will require coordinated efforts from all stakeholders involved, including the government, insurance companies, healthcare providers, and patients.
However, reforming the healthcare system is a complex process that will take time to implement. The current processes and structures in place are deeply ingrained and changing them requires consensus and cooperation from all parties involved. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 was a step towards healthcare reform, although it has its limitations. Nevertheless, it has shown some positive effects by decreasing the medical cost trend from approximately 9% in 2010 to a projected 6% in 2019 (Cleveland et al., 2019).
In conclusion, the United States spends significantly more on healthcare than other countries, yet the outcomes in terms of health and life expectancy are not as favorable. The high costs are primarily driven by the pricing practices of insurance and pharmaceutical companies. To make healthcare more affordable, stricter regulations are needed for insurance pricing, coverage, and medication costs. Additionally, healthcare reform requires cooperation from all stakeholders involved. While progress has been made with the Affordable Care Act, further efforts are needed to address the complex issues in the US healthcare system and improve outcomes for the population.