Healthcare Spending is Down, What Does this Mean?
Despite the world spending almost a year dealing with a global pandemic, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that healthcare spending is on track to go down for 2020. While this seems like it would be good news on the surface, health care costs have increased each year since 1960, so there are actually disheartening and sobering reasons experts believe this trend is happening.
Rising health care costs continue to be a concern even though spending on healthcare has decreased this year. In April, spending fell about 32% from the annual average. The lack of spending has come at a possible cost to preventive care and screenings.
Interestingly, some of the biggest drops happened in outpatient care. The reason: people are putting off doctor and clinic visits. On the flip side, telehealth visits have increased significantly but not enough to make up the deficit.
It’s currently debated how much COVID-19 is playing into the numbers. For example, we aren’t sure yet if the pandemic impacted both necessary preventive care that, having been delayed, will add to cost in coming years, or if it reigned in unnecessary care, which would be true savings.
The drop in healthcare spending could certainly be correlated to reduced spending as well as economic recession. This all remains to be seen.
However, if this correlation ends up being proven to be true, there is one simple reason for it: people simply don’t have the money to spend on a doctor right now. As the cost of healthcare rises, more and more people are forced to make the decision to either pay their bills or see a doctor. What’s the cost of this?
If a patient with lupus can’t visit their physician to get the medications or if they can’t afford the medication they need to function, they end up going without and that can lead to additional loss of income and potential job loss. If someone has a sick child but lost their job due to an economic recession – COVID-19 related or otherwise – then the child goes without healthcare, even if they have insurance.
The problems in the healthcare system are complex and emotional for all of us. However, it’s important that discussions happen in order to enact change. As changes are made, we will be reminded of this reduction in spending for a long time. It’s historic, just as much as a global pandemic is. How we respond can determine the health of our future generations.
One of those responses can be telehealth options. This has been a huge positive spot in the midst of the pandemic when people couldn’t get to their doctors. If you would like more information on great options for your organization – we can help! Reach out to us anytime.