Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rising Healthcare Costs

Rising healthcare costs have led many companies to trim costs and find clever ways to minimize the bill.

Wells Fargo is planning to cut costs by promoting insurance plans that will encourage employees to spend less on healthcare.  The options are either to put pretax dollars in these accounts or have the company fund an account this will mean the employee will pay higher insurance premiums.

The accounts puts the employee in a position that makes them more involved in how they are spending healthcare dollars.  If employees decide to fund the accounts with their own pretax dollars they will pay more of their medical expenses depending on how often they get sick.  On the other hand if they stay healthy they get to enjoy lower premiums.

According to the Center for Disease Control about half of all chronic diseases are linked to problems that are preventable such as obesity, physical inactivity and smoking.

Many studies have shown that patients with chronic diseases that get involved in their own care and take an interest in their health, have lower health care expenses because their health improves.

Job seekers are more attracted to work at a company that offers better healthcare benefits 25% of them will choose employment based on better health benefits according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.  But In this economic environment they will happily take just about any employment and healthcare package that is offered.

According to the Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey 2007 about 50 million Americans did not have health insurance and 25 million of them were underinsured.

What have the uninsured and underinsured done to survive? 

Couples have been marrying to give their significant other health care benefits.  Others have chosen to travel to receive medical attention.  Destinations such as South America, Central America and Asia have been chosen for those seeking hip replacement, heart surgery, dental work as well as other medical procedures.  According to Josef Woodman author of "Patients Beyond Borders" savings from medical tourism can add up to 40% per procedure.

About 400 organizations worldwide have been accredited by the Joint Commission International.  Of course there are pros and cons when considering medical tourism.  If a medical complication arises or post operative follow ups are necessary the patient will have to travel once again or prolong their trip. Also the doctor overseas will not be familiar with the patient's medical history. On the other hand the patient will get to take advantage of the trip and get to visit popular tourist destinations.  Some oversea doctors have been trained and schooled in the U.S. making them highly qualified.

The Commonwealth Fund found that the uninsured and underinsured both behave very similar when it comes to taking care of their medical needs.  Many of them do not visit the doctor regularly, undergo check ups and lab tests or fill prescriptions. 

The highest rate of underinsured at about 31% can be found in families with incomes under the poverty level.

It appears that the uninsured and underinsured are not as proactive when it comes to medical care and are less likely to seek medical attention.

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