Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

What experts want to see addressed about health care

By 37ci3 Jun27,2024



As President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump face off in their first general election debate Thursday, health policy experts say the solution the exorbitant cost of healthcare is the most important issue for voters US economy.

Health care costs in the United States continue to rise — and Americans increasingly say they can’t afford the care they need.

Drew Altman, president and CEO of KFF, a nonprofit health policy research group, said there is no problem with health care, even if voters are close to frustrated with the high prices patients have to pay for health care.

“People tend to think about health care separately from the economy,” he said. “But when you talk to the voters, it is not separate in their heads. Healthcare is a measure of their pocketbook’s economic concerns.”

National health care spending is projected to grow 7.5% to $4.8 trillion in 2023, faster than projected growth in the overall economy. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Estimated health care spending per capita — the average amount spent on health care services for each individual — rose to $14,423 in 2023 from $13,493 in 2022 and $13,012 in 2021.

Rising costs are hitting Americans’ wallets. Nearly half of U.S. adults say they have a hard time paying for health care costs KFF’s latest survey. About 1 in 4 say they or a family member had trouble paying for health care in the past year.

Dr Adam Gaffney, a critical care physician at the Cambridge Health Alliance, who did not take part in the vote, said this often meant people would have to skip or delay the care they needed. One family member can try to help financially, he added, but trying to help another can sometimes aggravate the entire family’s problems — especially medical debt.

“Healthcare costs are one of the most important economic issues for American households,” he said. “What we spend on health care is going to be one of the biggest line items for many families, especially seniors with children or chronic illnesses.”

No radical reform

While Trump has revived threats to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, major health care reform is unlikely to be a major issue in the debate, Altman said.

Biden is likely to tout the Inflation Reduction Act, which he signed into law in 2022.

Among the provisions, Medicare is allowed to negotiate drug prices directly with drug companies for the first time. Earlier this year, the government began negotiating the prices of the 10 most expensive prescription drugs covered by Medicare, including heart drugs and diabetes drugs. The government is expected to publish the new agreed prices by September 1.

Earlier this month, the administration also announced a plan remove debts from medical reports.

Beyond Obamacare and abortion, Trump has offered little detail on what his health care policy would look like in a potential second term. He has made addressing the high cost of prescription drugs a tentpole of his previous term, including a push to allow states to import drugs from Canada and a rule that pegs the prices of some drugs to those paid by countries abroad.

The biggest challenge for both Biden and Trump will be pushing forward health care spending policies in Congress that both parties can get behind, said Robin Feldman, a law professor and director of the Center for Innovation at UC Law San Francisco.

“The notions of unity and compromise seem to be a distant memory in Congress as much as in the nation,” he said.

“The idea of ​​big, sweeping reform has seemed unlikely in recent years,” Gaffney said.

Breakthrough reforms remain difficult but essential.

“This distinction between health care and the economy as an issue drives me crazy because there is no difference for real people,” Altman said. “It’s one of their biggest economic concerns.”



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