As health care costs keep rising, more people seem to be skipping
It's not fear of doctors, however, but more of a phobia about the bills that could follow. Higher deductibles
and out-of-network fees are just some of the out-of-pocket costs that can hit a
U.S. health care costs keep rising, and hit more than $10,000 a year per person in 2016. According to a recent national poll, over the past 12 months, 44 percent of
Americans said they didn't go to the doctor when they were sick or injured
because of financial concerns. Meanwhile, 40 percent said they skipped a
recommended medical test or treatment.
Also, the study found most people who are delaying or skipping care
actually have health insurance. Some 86 percent of those surveyed said they're
covered either through their employer, have insurance they purchased directly,
or through government programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
"There have been so many changes in the health care landscape in
the United States that this news is not entirely surprising," Cleveland
Clinic president and CEO Tom Mihaljevic told CNBC's "On the Money" in
a recent interview. However, Mihaljevic warned that skipping visits or treatment
can be counterproductive.
"One of most important consequences of skipping medical care or
delaying care ultimately impacts the quality of care, impacts the
outcome," he said. "Untimely visits or delay of visits to the
physician ultimately leads to the increased cost of care."
However, the poll, conducted by the University of Chicago and the West
Health Institute, found Americans fear large medical bills more than they do
serious illness. The data showed 33 percent of those surveyed were
"extremely afraid" or "very afraid" of getting seriously
ill. About 40 percent said paying for health care is more frightening than the
"Part of problem here is healthcare tends to be very complex, and
every patient typically requires a number of procedures and tests to be done,
so it's really difficult to estimate the upfront cost of care, "
Mihaljevic told CNBC.
Additionally, the survey found 54 percent of those polled received one
or more medical bills over the past year for something they thought was covered
by their insurance. And 53 percent received a bill that was higher than they
Mihaljevic acknowledged the range of different fees for the same
services should be made clearer for consumers. "There is an absolute need
for increased transparency when it comes to cost and this is one of mandates
for our industry as a whole," he said.
How technology can
To combat rising health costs, Mihaljevic explained that the Cleveland
Clinic is focused on the "standardization of care."
"When we reduce the variability of the way we take care of
patients, we manage to decrease the cost and at the same time improve the
quality of care that we provide," he added.
In addition, the health system is also pushing ahead with advances in
medical technology, which may help bring down costs in the future. "We
firmly believe digital technology is going to have a transformative
effect," Mihaljevic said. Among the initiatives is a partnership
with IBM Watson to use big data to help clinical decision making.
And through the Cleveland Clinic's Express Care Online, 25,000 virtual
doctor visits were completed in 2017. Although virtual visits are billed as
more cost effective,new data suggest otherwise.
"We are constantly looking how to make our care more accessible
more affordable and of higher quality," Mihaljevic added.
Click here for the original article from CNBC.