Health Care in U.S. Unaffordable: $20,000 average for family of four

Clarifying commentary on the recent Millman index report at AcademyHealth Blog by Aaron Carroll. 

For the first time the average cost of health care for the typical American family of four has surpassed $20,000.

What accounts for this? Well, it turns out that care in America is extremely expensive. The average inpatient admission to the hospital cost $14,662 in 2010. If you were admitted to the hospital for a surgery, the average cost was $27,100. The average newborn delivery – if things went well – cost $7,371. Instruments like cost sharing and high deductible health plans that are designed to empower consumers lose much of their appeal when confronted with numbers like these. If you have a baby, or need to go to the hospital just once in a year, you’ve likely already spent as much as allowed out-of-pocket, meaning that any cost-sharing incentives to reduce spending are gone.

Moreover, it appears that prices, not utilization are the cause of increases in spending:

Read the post for details.

Medicynical Note:  Utilization is decreasing but costs increasing.  Our republican friends will say this is the marketplace—people becoming more cost conscious.  

Yes, indeed, increased costs decrease utilization, but it also decreases access—over 50 million and rising uninsured in the U.S.  In the short and long run quality of care and patient’s lives suffer.  We lead the world in uninsured citizens and costs.  That’s the American “system.”

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