Thanks again to the Kaiser Family Foundation for keeping all of us informed about important healthcare statistics. Here’s a relatively recent snapshot of how the percent of Americans lacking health insurance has fluctuated since the 1970s. The effect of Obamacare on the statistic is undeniable:
The Commonwealth Fund recently circulated information on the widespread difficulty many Americans have paying for their medical care, even when they have insurance. Burdened by high co-pays and high coinsurance rates, these out-of-pocket expenses are putting people on the financial edge. Here is a picture of the results, which show that a third of people living at less than 200% of the federal poverty limit struggled paying for such services in the past 12 months: We have an affordability problem in the US healthcare system!
Sabin Russell wrote a great piece in Health Affairs recently, on the drought in investment to develop new medical devices. Read it if you have access. If you don’t, here are some of her main points.
1. Venture capital for device manufacturers has been drying up for a while: “‘For five years, this industry has been in a world of hurt,’ says longtime venture capital investor Jonathan Fleming.”
2. The slowdown is partly the fault of the FDA. Russell describes the experience of NeuroPace, a company making an implant to short-circuit seizures:
“With clinical data in hand, the company applied for FDA approval in early 2010, but it took the agency nearly four years to grant it. ‘They were nonresponsive, arbitrary, and they didn’t hold to their own timelines. It was close to an adversarial relationship,’ says Fischer, who has shepherded products from four different implantable device companies through the FDA’s Premarket Approval (PMA) review process in three decades. ‘In my mind, it took a lot longer than it should have.’ The lengthy review time strained the company’s finances and will continue to pinch until NeuroPace reaches profitability.” To read the rest of this article, please visit Forbes.
According to figures from the Kaiser Family Foundation, one of the best sources of reliable health policy information, the majority of Americans will have to exhaust all their “liquid assets” to cover medical expenses, if they reach the maximum out-of-pocket costs allowed by their health insurance.
The moral of this story is simple: stay healthy!
The percent of Americans without health insurance has dropped precipitously in the last few years, thanks in large part to the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. This is especially true in those states that, in accordance with the law, expanded Medicaid eligibility. Here is a picture of some recent data:
This is really good news, and the figures are likely to continue improving over the next few years. But they will improve a lot more if holdout states agree to expand Medicaid.
I’m not holding my breath.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the percent of Americans who lack any health insurance has declined significantly. Put another way – more Americans have health insurance than ever. But having insurance coverage is different than being well covered by insurance. Sometimes a person can enroll in a health insurance plan, and still face the kind of out-of-pocket healthcare costs that lead to significant financial distress. That is certainly one of the findings of a recent Commonwealth Fund study, with the main results illustrated below:
Face out-of-pocket expenses equal to 10% or more of your income? You are officially underinsured. By this measure, almost a quarter of Americans were underinsured in 2014. Not a figure we should be proud of!