Healthcare, as we know it, is backwards. It’s a system predicated on treating you when you’re sick, instead of keeping you healthy. It’s also a system where a single stitch might run you $500. Where insurance claims require a PhD to understand. Where time spent in a doctor’s waiting room is far exceeds time with an actual doctor.
It’s like we said: Backwards. How backwards? In this series we’re taking a look at the four biggest ways the healthcare system is all turned around — and what we’re doing to move it Forward.
Would you be surprised to hear that “cost” is the No. 1 complaint when it comes to what’s wrong with the healthcare system in this country? Probably not. Most people either know someone who has been on the receiving end of an expensive medical bill, or have an insurance claim horror story themselves.
Indeed, the ballooning cost of healthcare is one of the largest, most complex problems facing a country where employer-provided health coverage costs the average family $19,000 a year, and where medication costs on average four times as much as it does in any other industrialized nation.
So why is trying to stay healthy so expensive? And, naturally, what can we do about it? Let’s find out.
‘One Knee Brace? That’ll be $900, please.’
If there’s a source to the ever-widening gap between the cost of healthcare in the U.S. and the cost of healthcare everywhere else, it’s the prices. You know, like when a knee brace that might cost you less than $50 online costs you just under $1000 when your doctor bills you for it. Or when a simple visit from a nurse to check your ears with an otoscope can cost you thousands of dollars. That’s not hyperbole — that’s real-life:
It’s no surprise that list prices for health-related goods and services have gotten this bad. Unlike in most other types of markets, massive consolidation in the last 20 years among insurance companies and hospital systems mean the healthcare industry lacks serious price competition. And because the industry is set up where you get services first and the bill later, providers often can and do charge whatever they want.
But, perhaps most of all, it’s the perverse profit-seeking incentives built into the current healthcare system for providers and insurers to increase their prices and prescribe additional, costly services like x-rays or MRIs when they’re not really needed that has added zeroes to the cost of every bill.
Needless to say, going to the doctor, paying a copay, getting what appears to be simple tests run or a basic prescription written and then, weeks later, opening a letter from your insurer with a surprise bill for thousands of dollars inside can leave you wondering what, exactly, you’re paying for when carve out a chunk of your paycheck for your health insurance every other week.
As it turns out, not a whole lot if you’re even relatively healthy.
Paying More and Getting Less
If the actual list price of care is bad, the problem is compounded by how little bang for the buck people get from their health insurance. Here’s a startling number: The average premium in 2020 for a family with employer-subsidized coverage was $21,342, of which the employee paid $5,588 — that’s $214 per bi-weekly paycheck. Here’s another startling number: The average deductible in 2019 for a family health plan was $3,655.
What’s that all mean? It means that most families pay — a lot — for the privilege of having health coverage that they’ll need to pay another $3,655 to even use. And considering one-third of Americans with insurance have received a surprise medical bill, many of which are for $500 or more — like, for example, a bill for standard blood panel which can either cost $11 or close to $1,000, with patients not knowing ahead of time — it’s no wonder more and more people are switching to lower premium, even higher deductible health plans, or opting out of coverage all together.
Better Care, Fewer Bills — That’s Forward
Regardless of how people choose to pay for their healthcare, one thing is for certain — when it comes to your coverage, you don’t get what you pay for. And that’s the most backwards thing about the healthcare industry.
At Forward, we’re making sure our members get what they’re paying for. We’re not insurance. We’re doing away with copays. We’re not going to send you a surprise bill for an overpriced cotton swab when you see one of our doctors. And there’s no coinsurance or deductibles because we’re insurance-free. Instead, there’s just one flat, monthly fee, and for that flat fee you get the best preventative care around.
We’re here to help you be the healthiest you can be, so you can live a longer, happier life. Because being the healthiest you can be makes the most financial sense of all.