We often speak only about the direct costs of care: health visits, cost of drugs, hospital stays.
But it’s important to remember that the consequences are far more expansive than immediate costs. The total costs stretch to all sectors of the economy.
Economics affect all parts of our lives
Whether we are discussing clean water and climate change or education, immigration, and so many more issues, there is a cost to most of not all sectors our communities. Often, there is a national cost that can be measured, too.
It’s for this reason that we present our first chart for you:
Many of us in the health care and economic fields have known for decades that even the best health care, by itself, does not deliver the best outcomes. About a decade ago, the University of Wisconsin in partnership with JAMA and the Kaiser Family Foundation published the earliest charts of what social factors influence health outcomes. You may be familiar with smoking and poor diets. But the Social Determinants of Health #SDOH encompass much more.
Social determinants very often are predictors of better (or worse) health outcomes. Some of these include exercise, support community, neighborhood, clean food, clean water… and still more. You can see the list in the chart below.
You can see that these assets (or, risk factors, if they don’t exist) can disable a great diagnosis and treatment plan. Many of the great success stories in cancer, diabetes, depression and most assuredly, addiction, are successes because they included so many of these factors in order to achieve the success.
When we withhold funding, put barriers to affordability or access, or deny people the basic education, food, or clean water in our great economy, we are hindering their life expectancy and social mobility as well.
Martin Luther King said it best:
Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health careis the most shocking and inhumane.
Kaiser Family Foundation is a trusted source for health care data, surveys and year over year monitoring. Just as Pew Organization surveys culture impact, KFF monitors many dimensions of health care impact. In this survey, it is painfully obvious that voters are worried about health care costs and affordability. Sixty-seven percent (67%) are concerned.
Drew Altman, of KFF, explains more about this problem in a post for Axios:
It helps explain why so many people name health their top issue, despite the progress that has been made in covering the uninsured. And everyone who’s sick and can’t afford medical care has family members and friends who see what they are going through, creating a political multiplier effect.
It is also why health care is substantially an economic issue as well as an issue of access to care. When people have trouble paying medical bills, it’s a hard hit to their family budgets — causing many people to take a second job, roll up more debt, borrow money, and forego other important family needs.
The GOP keeps hammering at health care and specifically at the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In many ways, these efforts look like moments for election ads. Except, of course, that there are real people who are going to get hurt.
Removing essential benefits, one of which is coverage for pre-existing conditions, is a key portion of the ACA (otherwise known as Obamacare). The democrats in the Senate proposed a measure to keep the coverage of pre-existing conditions, but, NOPE, the GOP didn’t buy in.
We all know that people without health insurance cost more money than those who are able to get the care they need. My work in this field has shown 10-50% higher costs for patients with pre-existing conditions who are not compliant with their treatments (medicine, physical therapy, tests, etc). The average cost of the patient who is not compliant is 30% higher than a compliant patient. And when folks can’t afford to use the insurance because the deductible or copay is too high, the uncovered treatment becomes the tax payers’ problem, as hospitals and clinicians demand payment.
GOP Votes No to Pre-Existing Conditions Just Before Midterms
In a 50-50 vote, Republicans defeated a Democratic measure to stop the return of denying health coverage for pre-existing conditions. The measure was part of a Democratic attempt to bring healthcare to the forefront of the campaign for control of Congress in November.
This was possible because the short-term health plans Trump has been pushing don’t need to adhere to the standards of normal plans governed by the Affordable Care Act.
“The Trump administration is rewriting the rules on guaranteed health care protections that millions of Americans depend on,” stated Senator Tammy Baldwin(D-Wisconsin), who is up for reelection in November. “These junk insurance plans can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and don’t have to provide essential health services like prescription drugs, emergency room visits and maternity care.”
It was Baldwin who filed the petition to reconsider Trump’s weakening of pre-existing condition protections.
After a year of failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Republicans began employing a new strategy — corrode it until it no longer had any meaning. This “collapse and replace” strategy has been working fairly well for opponents of Obamacare.