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Assignment: Skyrocketing Cost Of Healthcare

As healthcare professionals we’re always reminded about the skyrocketing cost of healthcare, these reminders are either given by your place of employment or the patients we encounter.  There will always be medical advancements being developed, society is always searching for the next best thing on the market, for example; certain cosmetic procedures, weight-loss procedures and medications. While caring for my patients, I never focus on whether or not they can afford their procedure or care, it doesn’t hit me until there is a conversation with the patient and they begin to express why they refused to seek care initially.  Many of my patients are uninsured/under-insured and do not have a primary physician that they see for regular check-ups, some of the patients use the emergency department frequently while others never go until it’s too late.

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Economic Challenges

The cost of care can be overwhelming, treatments that can provide quality of life or that are used to sustain life can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars. The cost of insurance and what it covers can be confusing at times and even though you might be paying high insurance premiums the coverage may not cover very much at all.  “Medicare is more efficient than private insurance” (Archer, 2011).  According to an article in Health Affairs, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that Medicare spending rose by an average of 4.3% each year between 1997 and 2009 while private insurance companies rose at a rate of 6.5%. The CBO has predicted that a policy that would be the equivalent of Medicare will cost over 40% more by the year 2022. At this rate it would seem that people will have to work solely to pay for insurance and will still have to second guess whether or not they can afford to go to the doctor.  The minimum wage doesn’t seem to be rising as fast as the insurance premiums so it is my opinion that without drastic changes to make healthcare more attainable, this country will continue to face these problems.

Ethical Challenges

Ethically, there are many questions that can be asked such as; why are medications so expensive? How can people afford some of these premiums if they can barely pay living expenses? and how can pharmaceutical companies get away with huge price hikes? These are all questions that are important, but it doesn’t mean these answers are in our best interest or the issue will be corrected. Two examples I would like to bring to your attention are The EpiPen which is used for life threatening allergic reaction and Provenge, a medication that is used for the treatment of prostate cancer. In 2015, the cost of the EpiPen rose from less than $100 for a two-pack to $608.61, this is a 548% price hike. Mylan, the manufacturers of the EpiPen provides no explanation for the hike in price of this product that only has a shelf life of 18months.  Provenge is used to treat prostate cancer, the regimen takes a month to complete and the patient require three treatments. A writer for the Washington Post, Robert Stein presented a debate about the cost which is $93,000 versus benefit of this drug, according to Stein, studies showed that Provenge only added approximately four months to the survival rates of prostate cancer patients. Having to choose whether or not you can afford to be with your loved ones for a bit longer has to be an agonizing decision.

Policy Changes: Assignment: Skyrocketing Cost Of Healthcare

Preventative care is a huge predictor of patient outcomes, I believe if we focused on providing easier access for wellness visits, blood work and education we would see a decrease in patient healthcare costs. Health screening would allow patients to become more aware of various health conditions that they are prone to and may also be a deterrent to certain lifestyle choices. This is such a broad issue and it seems like the only thing everyone can agree on is that this system is broken. The pharmaceutical companies increase prices to amounts that are not feasible to the average middle income American without repercussions, they do this because they can.

Assignment: Skyrocketing Cost Of Healthcare References

Archer, D. (2011, September 20). Medicare is More Efficient Than Private Insurance. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20110920.013390/full/

Sofer, D. (2016). The high Cost of Prescription Drugs in America. The High Cost of Prescription Drugs in America,116(12), 14-14. doi:10.1097/01.NAJ.0000508647.48317.35

Stein, R. (2010, November 8). Review of prostate cancer drugs Provenge renews medical cost-benefit debate. The Washington Post. Retrieved December 10, 2018 from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/07/AR2010110705205.html

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