“The federal pandemic influenza plan and public health experts predict that should the H5N1 influenza virus mutate in such a way that human-to-human transmission can easily occur, approximately 30 percent of the U.S. population could develop the disease. An influenza pandemic of some type could occur in the next few years … It is expected that there would be serious shortages of health care facilities, equipment, pharmaceuticals and personnel. The public health system and hospitals will be quickly overrun if even some of the estimated number of people become sick. It is important to realize that victims of this disease will, by default, need to be cared for in home-care settings, and we must plan accordingly.”
This might sound familiar to our current situation in 2020, but these conclusions are actually from a report published by the National Institutes of Health in 2007.1
The possible effects of a pandemic like COVID-19 were not entirely unexpected. Since the report above was released, the U.S. had more than 13 years to better prepare for a widespread illness by addressing problems in the nation’s health care system. Although the media continues to report health care is the top priority for Americans, the large, structural changes necessary to provide quality, affordable health care resources nationwide have not surfaced.
No retirement strategy is complete without addressing the costs of health care and long-term care. Retirees are living longer and health care expenses continue to rise.2 If you feel your retirement strategy may be inadequate to help cover medical expenses in the future, please give us a call. We can discuss insurance products, such as life insurance and annuities, that can provide various options that may help meet your financial needs.
To be fair, 80% of Americans are mostly concerned with their own out-of-pocket health care costs.3 However, just offering individuals a financial “Band-Aid” does not address the underlying causes of growing costs related to health care government policies.4 A 2017 study found the U.S. spends $812 billion a year in administrative costs alone, as they relate to insurance companies and overhead associated with medical practices managing the claims processes.5
The problems have been identified, but unfortunately, no universal solution has been agreed upon. Republicans and Democrats are on opposite sides of the debate — less versus more government intervention — and there’s even a diverse range of policy proposals within the Democratic party. Meanwhile, the wide partisan divide continues in Washington, D.C., and the stalemate continues for 13 years and counting.6
If health care wasn’t a commanding issue in the country before the COVID-19 pandemic, it certainly is now.
Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.
1 Peter J. Levin, Eric N. Gebbie and Kristine Qureshi. National Institutes of Health. Sep-Oct 2007. “Can the Health-Care System Meet the Challenge of Pandemic Flu? Planning, Ethical, and Workforce Considerations.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1936949/. Accessed March 16, 2020.
2 Milken Institute of Public Health. April 6, 2018. “The Growing Cost of Aging in America Part 1: An Aging Population and Rising Health Care Costs.” https://publichealthonline.gwu.edu/cost-of-aging-healthcare/. Accessed March 16, 2020.
3 Adam Cancryn. Politico. Feb. 9, 2020. “POLITICO-Harvard Poll: Health care costs are top priority heading into elections.” https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/19/poll-health-care-election-115866. Accessed March 16, 2020.
4 Jim Probasco. Investopedia. Oct. 16, 2019. “Why Do Healthcare Costs Keep Rising?” https://www.investopedia.com/insurance/why-do-healthcare-costs-keep-rising/. Acessed March 16, 2020.
5 Joanne Finnegan. Fierce Health care. Jan. 7, 2020. “How can U.S. healthcare save more than $600B? Switch to a single-payer system, study suggests.” https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/practices/how-can-u-s-healthcare-save-more-than-600b-switch-to-a-single-payer-system-study-says. Accessed March 16, 2020.
6 Julie Rovner. NPR. Jan. 29, 2020. “U.S. Elections 2020: Understanding What’s At Stake For Health Care.” https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/01/29/800652075/u-s-elections-2020-understanding-whats-at-stake-for-health-care. Accessed March 16, 2020.
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