The Gazette Times, December 18, 2015
by Bruce Thomson, M.D., Corvallis
The Dec. 2 issue of the Gazette-Times reported that health spending in the U.S. increased by 5.3 percent in 2014. Escalation in health care costs has gone on for decades, long before “Obamacare," which provided some significant improvements for health care, but did nothing to control escalating costs in health care.
Profits and administrative duplication among the numerous insurance companies have fueled the increases. Recently, stock values for the top four health insurance companies increased by 31 percent. There are continued increases in charges that are levied for services at all hospitals and clinics. Health insurance brokerages get a huge discount on charges for fees that they pay (benefits) leaving policy holders with increasingly higher copays and deductibles. As a result, the majority of medical bankruptcies, already exceeding 300 a month in Oregon, are for people with health insurance.
The present unfettered "all the market will bear/free market" approach to health care is further evident in the outrageous increases in pharmaceutical charges, particularly in the past two years. Essential, lifesaving medicines can be purchased in Canada or Mexico for as little as 1 percent the cost in the USA.
Are you ready to think of health care as a common good such as education and public safety rather than a commodity? If you feel it is time to reform an unsustainable health care financing system, contact your state legislator to address your concerns. Join Mid Valley Health Care (mvhca.org) or Health Care for All Oregon (hcao.org) to effect reform.