Those who believe that the US has the best health care in world are wrong, many recent studies show. That may be true at a handful of pre-eminent medical centers, but it is hardly true for the care provided to a huge portion of the population.
The United States spends more than twice as much per capita on health care compared to almost every other country in the world — and with worse health quality than most industrialized nations. Health premiums for a family of four have nearly doubled since 2001. Starbucks pays more for health care than it does for coffee.
Nearly 100,000 Americans are killed every year by preventable medical errors. Over 46 Million Americans are without Health care insurance. The AMA site Voice for the uninsured documents some of the sad stories of those without coverage.
Top of Mind Problem
The problems people are having paying for health care and health insurance are a central dimension of the economic and pocketbook concerns right now according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health research group that conducts an annual survey of employer medical benefits.
- Employees are paying an average of $3,354 in premiums for family coverage, more than double the amount they paid in 1999. The total cost for family coverage now averages $12,680 a year, up 5 percent from 2007.
- According to a recent study* 57 million Americans live in families struggling with medical bills, and 43 million of those have insurance coverage. Nearly one of every five families had problems paying medical bills last year. More than half of these families said they borrowed money to pay these expenses, and nearly 20 percent of those having difficulty said they contemplated declaring personal bankruptcy as a result of their medical bills.
Beause they are already in debt over their medical care, evidence shows that some families have been forgoing treatments - even for serious or chronic conditions.
By deciding not to fill a prescription for high blood pressure medication or failing to go to the doctor for diabetes, they are at risk of incurring more serious and costly problems that can land them in the emergency room.
Health care quality
As reported in the New York Times on November 18, 2008 - The USA is "The Wrong Place to Be Chronically Ill"
The times editorial cited a new study by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based foundation that has pioneered in international comparisons, as the latest telling evidence that the dysfunctional American health care system badly needs reform. The study concluded that Chronically ill Americans suffer far worse care than their counterparts in seven other industrial nations.
The Commonwealth Fund’s survey of 7,500 patients in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Britain and the United States focused on patients who suffered from at least one of seven chronic conditions: hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, lung problems, cancer or depression.
More than half of the American patients went without care because of high out-of-pocket costs. They did not visit a doctor when sick, skipped a recommended test or treatment or failed to fill a prescription. The uninsured suffered most, but even 43 percent of those who had insurance all year skipped care because of costs.
Health care costs**
• Retirees have health care issues top-of-mind. When asked to name the most pressing financial issue facing most Americans today, 25 percent of retirees mentioned health insurance and medical expenses, compared to just 16 percent of workers. Concern about health care ranks higher, for both workers and retirees, than concerns about mortgage and housing payments or oil and energy costs.
Top Mentions of Most Pressing Issues Financial Issue Facing Most Americans Today
|All Workers||All Retirees|
|Making ends meet; inflation; cost of living; economy||17%||19%|
|Paying for health insurance; medical expenses||16||25|
|Making mortgage payments; housing||16||10|
|Paying down debt or loans||13||5|
|Fuel or energy costs; oil or gas||9||9|
Health Care Costs in Retirement:
• Most retirees are finding that health care costs at least as much, if not more, than they expected. Forty-four percent of retirees have spent more on health care than they expected and another 42 percent have spent about what they expected.
• About half of retirees in good, fair, or poor health have spent more on health care in retirement than they expected to, significantly more than those retirees in excellent or very good health
Retiree Spending on Health Care as Compared to Expected Spending on Health Care
|Retiree Health Status|
|All Retirees||Excellent/Very Good||Good||Fair/Poor|
|About the same||42||53||42||34|
Future Benefits Equal to Today’s?
• In addition, retirees are less confident in the Medicare system than they have been in recent years. Forty-five percent of retirees say they are not too or not at all confident in the future value of Medicare benefits, the highest level of doubt displayed since 1999
Medical Insurance for living overseas
You can and probably should join a local healthcare plan in the city where you choose to live, for purposes of taking care of minor illnesses or injuries. For more significant events, however, you may wish to purchase an International policy to cover the larger risks. Such policies provide peace of mind for those choosing to live and or travel extensively overseas.
If you have never looked into the business of medical tourism, you will be very surprised to find that the global $4 billion industry growing at over 15% per year is a safe and attractive option for all kinds of medical and dental care. Medical tourism is especially attractive for U.S. residents since the cost of surgical procedures in the U.S. are so high. Medical tourists can receive first class treatment in overseas hospitals and expect savings of as much as 80% including travel costs.
A number of doctors, dentists, and hospitals in countries in Latin America provide such services and represent a good option for anyone able to travel (elective, non emergency operations).
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