May 17, 2016 by Tony Novak
Gallop’s latest economic survey on consumer finance issues published April 27, 2016 confirms that the cost of health care still tops the list of our financial concerns. The number of Americans struggling financially to gain access to health care – about 1 in 7 of all Americans – appears to be roughly the same now as before we began implementation of the Affordable Care Act years ago. The number of people without health insurance is only slightly reduced from before the health reform law despite government’s best effort to massage the numbers by changing the way we report the number of uninsured.
So this begs the question: what did we really get for the $1.2 TRILLION dollars that we are spending on implementation of the Affordable Care Act? Clearly we are getting more government involvement in the financial administration of health care. We are also getting a larger, more profitable health care industry overall and probably also a larger, more profitable insurance industry (the jury is still out on the last one). Clearly we are spending less on actual patient treatment and more on the administration of the health care industry.
What we are not getting is better access to routine medical care when we need it. Our out-of-pocket costs for routine medical care are higher now than ever before. (By routine medical care I mean the most frequently occurring types of medical expenses that most of us incur at some point in our lives). There are indications that access to mental health and dental care have actually declined since implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Simply put, we are paying more and getting less.
Personally, I can only conclude that my early negative assessments of the impact of the Affordable Care Act – in sharp contrast to predictions from its supporters – were exactly on target. We shot ourselves in the foot and now can’t afford the medical care to treat the wound.