Is Health­care Af­ford­able?

Alternative Medicine - - Publisher’s Letter - Dick Ben­son PUB­LISHER

We are in the mid­dle of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion sea­son. The Repub­li­cans are call­ing for re­peal of the Af­ford­able Care Act (ACA), whereas the Democrats are con­tin­u­ing to sup­port it. John Gey­man, MD, (a med­i­cal doc­tor) re­cently re­leased a book about the ACA. In this is­sue of Al­ter­na­tive Medicine, we high­light some of his dis­cus­sion. It’s a com­pli­cated sub­ject, and I hope that Dr. Gey­man will shed some light on it for you.

De­spite the ACA, many in this country face a health­care cri­sis. Re­cently, a fam­ily mem­ber of mine had a ma­jor surgery that re­sulted in an ex­tended hospi­tal stay (nearly 60 days). The ini­tial hospi­tal and doc­tor bills were more than $200,000. The in­surance com­pany con­tin­ues to re­view all of the ex­penses. When it’s all pro­cessed, we ex­pect the out-of-pocket ex­penses to be less than $5,000. Thank good­ness for good health in­surance! But many peo­ple are not that lucky; they can find them­selves in med­i­cal debt that ex­ceeds the mort­gage on their home. And when con­sumers ne­go­ti­ate with health­care providers di­rectly, the providers may re­duce costs based on abil­ity to pay.

So what is the real cost of health­care, af­ter con­sid­er­ing all of the ne­go­ti­at­ing? In a free-mar­ket world, pric­ing is de­ter­mined by sup­ply and de­mand, yet in health­care, it seems prices are de­ter­mined by the abil­ity to pay. But mov­ing to a free-mar­ket health­care sys­tem could be prob­lem­atic for the consumer. Can you imag­ine hav­ing to shop for the most com­pet­i­tive price for heart surgery? This con­cept just does not fit with health­care.

Although politi­cians all claim to have the an­swer, they of­fer no real so­lu­tions. The Repub­li­cans have con­trolled the House and Se­nate for nearly four years, yet they have not of­fered any mod­i­fi­ca­tions to cor­rect the sys­tem. Each can­di­date says they have a plan to re­form health­care, but no one puts one forth. I sup­port the free-mar­ket sys­tem and sup­port changes in how we pur­chase health in­surance, but I won­der how that would af­fect health­care costs.

This com­plex is­sue is be­com­ing even more im­por­tant as we age (10,000 baby boomers in the United States turn 65 years old ev­ery day). The ACA ex­tended ben­e­fits to many; how­ever, most state ex­changes are un­der wa­ter. I en­cour­age you to read Dr. Gey­man’s ar­ti­cle for fur­ther un­der­stand­ing.

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