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Financially Navigating the U.S. Healthcare System

The U.S. healthcare system has come a long way since medical insurance was first introduced in 1929. Healthcare costs have skyrocketed in the last 90 years, and the majority of contemporary Americans hold insurance policies through their employer. Yet there’s often a considerable out-of-pocket cost that accompanies modern insurance policies.

For many Americans, having medical insurance may seem like more trouble than it's worth. After all, you will undoubtedly still be left with a number of bills following any type of medical treatment, after your insurance provider covers their share. Especially for those with serious injuries or chronic conditions, medical debt may take months or even years to pay off, and sometimes even leads to bankruptcy

The good news is that it's possible to financially navigate the healthcare system and reduce or better manage your medical debt. For starters, always pay your medical bills on time and make sure to contact your provider if you need to make a late payment. You should also avoid the use of credit cards to pay off medical-related debts. Paying with a credit card means that you'll accrue interest and ultimately spend more money than what was initially due to your healthcare provider(s).

When it comes to bill reduction itself, one useful trick is to find the providers and plans that will provide help towards or discounts on your healthcare expenses. Absent a single-payer system, for example, it may be wise to utilize secondary insurance programs for non-traditional medical expenses such as dental surgery, children's cancer treatments, or mental health care. Government-funded programs may provide another useful avenue for keeping your medical debt under control, but they are typically only available to individuals in particular income brackets.

But no matter your situation, income level, and healthcare needs, there are numerous real-world means of navigating the U.S. healthcare system.

Notable Historic Events in the U.S. Healthcare Industry

As of 2016, the top priorities of The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) included reducing medical costs and improving patient outcomes. Yet the HHS primarily operates via legislation, and it may take more than policy changes to bring accessibility and affordability to the U.S. healthcare system. For instance, many low-income Americans remain left behind when it comes to healthcare access, thanks in part to the 2017 repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

It may come as a surprise to many, but ensuring that America's most vulnerable populations have access to healthcare is a historic national mainstay. In 1965, Medicare and Medicaid were established, providing coverage to U.S. senior citizens and low-income individuals, respectively. Several supplemental government programs exist alongside Medicare and Medicaid, including the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

CHIP originated in 2009 with the passage of the Children's Health Insurance Authorization Act and is designed for those families that earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid. While CHIP is a national program, each state has its own version under different names. Eligibility and cost guidelines vary by state, but CHIP program coverage is nationally uniform and includes doctor visits, hospitalizations, eye care, medications, and more.

Benefits of Supplemental and Secondary Insurance Policies

The U.S. government is the country's largest healthcare payer, covering nearly 90 million people. Yet it exists in a vast sea of options wherein primary care providers, supplemental policies, and secondary insurance all play an important role in the expansive industry. The healthcare industry is a powerhouse when it comes to economics: Annual healthcare spending totals more than $2 trillion, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

For many Americans, the individual numbers stemming from that annual spending can be worrisome, stressful, and sometimes impossible to overcome. If you have a similar outlook when it comes to healthcare costs, you may want to consider supplemental and/or secondary insurance. The terms are often used interchangeably, and when it comes down to it, both supplemental and secondary insurance are designed to fill in any coverage gaps found in your primary insurance.

The supplemental insurance route isn't limited to those who have medical coverage through their employer. If you are a Medicare or Medicaid recipient, you can still take advantage of supplementary insurance. It may be especially worthwhile in the realm of oral care. Most state CHIP policies cover routine dental care for children, but adults on Medicare and Medicaid aren't so lucky. Federal health coverage for low-income Americans typically include oral care that is deemed medically necessary, but not traditional oral care such as cleaning and fillings. Supplemental insurance can help to bridge that gap.

Personalized Care: The Provider's Perspective

As the American healthcare landscape is extremely nuanced and continuously evolving, patients shouldn't be expected to navigate the system on their own. Healthcare providers, especially those working with a patient in a primary care capacity, should make an effort to forge personal connections with current and prospective patients. Further, transparency in regards to treatment costs and any possible complications that could elevate that cost are paramount to establishing a healthy patient relationship.

In addition, when you offer high-quality, personalized care with no surprise fees, you're more likely to attract new patients and establish yourself as an industry leader. And in our modern, digital age, another facet of personalized care is your online presence.

Choosing a healthcare provider is a highly personal decision, and today's patients are more tech-savvy than ever, so don't underestimate the power of healthcare marketing. Make sure that your website is streamlined and up-to-date, and that its primary focus is on the patient. Consider the types of questions your prospective patients may have, and ensure that it's easy to find the answer. For example, your potential customers will want to know the types of insurance accepted at your clinic, so place that information where it can be easily accessed.

Final Thoughts

Despite the possibly complex nature of your health insurance policy, staying healthy while saving money is easier than it seems. Consider the benefits of supplemental insurance policies, and keep the lines of communication with your healthcare providers open. That way, there's less likely to be surprises when your bill arrives, and it may simplify the process of making payment arrangements.

Posted by Magnolia at November 21, 2019 4:12 PM
Comments
Comment #451033

The problem with Obamacare is that it was trying to turn the medical healthcare system into a welfare system, and the middle class got hit the hardest with costs doubling, tripling, and quadrupling.

The U.S. already has many welfare systems (Medicaid, CHIP, no one is denied emergency medical, etc., etc., etc.).

Also, 70% of births at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas are by illegal immigrants.

For anyone that is serious about the affordability of healthcare, perhaps they should question WHY the Democrats want open borders, free healthcare, free or discounted college, free housing, and drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants (and also automatically register illegal immigrants to vote at the same time), etc., etc., etc. ?
It’s not easy to get much lower than that, but it’s nothing new for Democrats, who have a long history of despicable deeds.

For anyone that is serious about the affordability of healthcare, perhaps they should question the Democrats, who ignore the massive costs (net losses) of illegal immigration, conservatively estimated to be over $274 Billion per year (i.e. $0.75 Billion per day)!

Healthcare costs have gradually increased since government started meddling in healthcare in the 1960s, and prices increased at a faster rate than CPI, until 50% of every U.S. dollar spent on healthcare is already spent by the government.

  • Normalized Price Index versus (C)onsumer Price Index and (M)edical-care Price Index:
  • 40.0 |==========================================
  • 37.5 |=========================================M
  • 35.0 |========================================M=
  • 32.5 |=======================================M==
  • 30.0 |======================================M===
  • 27.5 |=====================================M====
  • 25.0 |====================================M=====
  • 22.5 |===================================M======
  • 20.0 |==================================M=======
  • 17.5 |================================M=========
  • 15.0 |==============================M==========C
  • 12.5 |============================M=========C===
  • 10.0 |===========================M====C=========
  • 07.5 |========================M===C=============
  • 05.0 |=====================M==C=================
  • 02.5 |CM==CM==CM==CM==CM=C=C=====================
  • 00.0 |==========================================
  • ==== 1930 _ 1940 _ 1950 _ 1960 _ 1970 _ 1980 _ 1990 _ 2000 _ 2010
  • Source: mises.org/wire/how-government-regulations-made-healthcare-so-expensive

$70 Billion per year in Medicare fraud, and the $23 Trillion national debt does not help matters.
25% of every dollar of federal revenue goes to pay the interest on the $23 Trillion national debt.
Neither Democrats or Republicans are doing anything about the waste and fraud, and Democrats want open borders (i.e. more electoral votes via higher CENSUS counts).

The problem is that there are far too many selfish people that want to ride in the wagon, rather than help push the wagon.
And many Democrats, by encouraging massive illegal immigration (to acquire more votes and control), and creating more sanctuary cities and states, are costing the U.S. citizens at least $0.75 Billion per DAY ($274 Billion per year) in net losses !!!
And that does not even include the cost of crimes and 2,000 homicides per year by criminal non-citizens.

And what have many Democrats been doing for the last decade?
What are the Democrats’ accomplishments (compared to the Trump administration)?
It appears that many Democrats are more interested in tearing the country apart, and working on stooping to there next new low, which is nothing new, considering the history of Democrats’ deeds over the past 155+ years.

Promises by many Democrats of citizenship for illegal immigrants who cut to the front of the line, and all of these crazy promises of free stuff, might buy a lot of votes, but there are hopefully enough voters who are too smart to fall for it. Hopefully, enough voters recognize that Democrats care less about the nation than about what many Democrats feel they are entitled to, what government should do for them, and what many Democrats are doing for more electoral votes, money, and control!

Posted by: d.a.n at November 21, 2019 10:09 PM
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