Health insurance will cost more than the typical family earns in 2033, Oregon study predicts
I checked out the study, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, and the headline did not exaggerate. The authors were updating their previous work with new numbers generated by the 2010 passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (which has to be the worst title ever for a law — no wonder everyone calls it Obamacare), and concluded that the health industry reforms in this Act have barely slowed the rocketing costs of health care in the US.
Here’s the scariest graph in their article.
The authors explain:
If health insurance premiums and national wages continue to grow at recent rates and the US health system makes no major structural changes, the average cost of a family health insurance premium will equal 50% of the household income by the year 2021, and surpass the average household income by the year 2033. If out-of-pocket costs are added to the premium costs, the 50% threshold is crossed by 2018 and exceeds household income by 2030.
A similar graph, taking into account that many people do not pay the full price of their health insurance due to employer subsidies, is not appreciably less scary. As the authors note, this trend is not supportable. Unless dramatic reforms take place, the whole system is headed toward a meltdown. They offer several ideas for those reforms, including rationing of care, which means making hard choices about exorbitantly expensive procedures or drugs that have limited benefit (their example was “the recent approval by Medicare of the prostate cancer drug sipuleucel-T (Provenge), which will cost an estimated $93,000 for treatment to increase life expectancy by 4 months.”
The very mention of care rationing will no doubt set off general hysteria among the American right, who were already convinced by Sarah Palin that Obamacare meant everyone’s grandparents were going to be offed by the government. Just last month, presidential candidate Rick Santorum claimed that Obama’s socialization of health care would result in the sorts of terrible travesties currently seen in Europe — such as elderly Dutch citizens having to wear bracelets reading “Do not euthanize me.” He went on to say:
Because they have voluntary euthanasia in the Netherlands, but half the people who are euthanized every year — and it’s 10 percent of all deaths for the Netherlands — half of those people are euthanized involuntarily, at hospitals, because they are older and sick.
(The Dutch were rather puzzled by such outrageous and easily disproven lies by a candidate running for the nation’s top office…but that’s because they don’t understand American politics. Lies are not an issue.)
But the odd thing is that for all the hysterical claims about the health care rationing that hasn’t occurred, nobody seems to be talking about the health care rationing that is already occurring — for all of those Americans who don’t have and/or can’t afford insurance. Their health care is rationed so strictly that they don’t have any at all.