Cost: Does the Supreme Court Decision Matter?
I hear daily grievances aimed at the current health insurance and health care delivery model. To suggest the current structure is imperfect would be a tremendous understatement. People grumble about the red tape, unnecessary complexities, sub-par care, access to insurance and so much else. The deafening groans are justifiable but there is one complaint I hear ten times that of any other…cost. Without question, the largest issue facing the United States' health care system today is cost. Some Americans believe cost is the premium they pay each month, or the amount owed to the pharmacist for their monthly prescription drugs, or the astronomical sum that a hospital charges per night for a dual occupancy room. Let us not get confused between price and cost. Price is simply the amount we pay out of our wallet for the service. Cost relative to the health care delivery system, on the other hand, is the dollars and resources necessary to provide care. There is no question the two are related but to solve the price issue, we must first address cost. We may positively influence price through widening the base of insured Americans but does that truly fix cost? Is there even a quick fix for an industry that represents 16% of our GDP?
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that annual health spending will increase 5.8% per year through 2020 regardless of whether the Affordable Care Act is upheld. My intent is not to simplify a complex industry and a 2,700 page bill. But relative to the largest issue facing this troubled industry, there is one chief question to ponder: Does it matter what the Supreme Court decides?