With a new administration in Washington, Americans are focused on the changes that lie ahead for the Affordable Care Act… and the effects it will have on all of us. As a small employer offering health insurance to my employees, I’ve watched our premiums rise steadily for years. Sadly, we’ve been talking about rising healthcare costs since this magazine was founded back in 1989—yet here we are still, in spite of attempts to “bend the cost curve.”
I am personally fortunate to have been blessed with good health, but as we all know, that can change in a heartbeat. One night last year, I had to drive myself to the emergency department in the middle of the night with a ruptured eardrum. I was seen by a physician about three hours later… but only after someone from accounting rolled a credit card machine into my room to take my copay. I was thankful that I was coherent enough to comply, but still, I had to shake my head.
Recent changes in healthcare delivery have placed more of the burden of understanding on the consumer—yet the complexities of engaging the system are as tangled as ever. Attempts to understand the services provided and compare costs, copays and deductibles are head-spinning for anyone, no matter how educated or knowledgeable. For something that is so critical to our lives, it would seem that simplifying the system should be a top goal of any future healthcare legislation.
Nothing could be more important—or impact more people—than our healthcare system. And while we as Americans have access to the best services in the world, it’s also true that we spend far more on healthcare than any other country. And when ranked by per-capita healthcare spending, the U.S. has a lower life expectancy than the next 24 countries. Are we getting the most impact for our dollars? It seems obvious that the journey of healthcare reform is far from over.
With single-party control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, we again find healthcare reform at the top of the national agenda. “Repeal and replace” of the ACA is the stated goal, but it won’t be easy to accomplish. And so, with uncertainty and no small amount of anxiety, we wait to see what happens. With so much at stake, I pray we can overcome the narrowness of our politics to find a solution that works better for everyone. iBi