The recession has taken its toll on Americans, and health care costs continue to plague underemployed and unemployed individuals. People who are employed and about to retire also see that their economic security is at greater risk than before because health care costs are rapidly increasing.
What is the impact of health care cost on workers?
Employers are usually the ones who fund employees’ health benefits. However, health care costs are taken from the total amount of compensation paid to them. Due to the fact that health care costs continue to rise, employers have begun to remove some elements included in worker’s compensation. This includes retirement benefits and cash wages. Employers may also require higher health premium contributions from workers. Worse yet, employers will stop giving health benefit or only select a few workers who will qualify for benefits. In some cases, people who are employed by small businesses are not provided with insurance.
How about those who are underemployed?
Workers who are underemployed but still face the same health premium increases may give up their health benefits because they can no longer afford the coverage. In turn, they will be exposed to greater risk. Based on the study that National Nurses United released, almost half of underemployed and unemployed Americans do not have access to health insurance, and about 56 percent skip check-ups due to cost concerns. This leads to delayed medical care.
There were 1,500 participants in this study including 300 part-time workers, 757 full-time employees and 413 unemployed individuals. One of the reasons why respondents delay medical care is because they cannot afford it in the first place. Based on the survey, about 63 percent skipped medical checkups and dental care, 46 percent skipped test recommendations as part of a treatment process, 40 percent did not buy medications the doctors required and 18 percent admitted they had problems receiving appropriate services for mental health. This is why underemployed U.S. citizens are more likely to carry a life-long financial burden due to major illnesses.
Why health care costs also affect unemployed individuals?
Once individuals are unemployed, they often automatically lose their health coverage as well. It is difficult for unemployed people to cope with the loss of health insurance. The lack of it can cause a lot of problems. Unemployed individuals forgo medical care because they cannot afford the cost for checkups and hospitalization. Although it is possible to receive medical care even when not insured, Americans often need to pay thousands of dollars for their medical expenses.
Why do health care costs continue to rise?
Advancing medical technology can cause health care costs to rise. This is because a vast range of new innovations have already been introduced to improve medical procedures and diagnostic tests. These modern advances pave the way for introducing new forms of treatment that either shorten medical procedures or replace the usual treatment methods.
• Increased Demand for Services
The pressure is on the health care system due to the increased number of people in need of service. The growth of people over 50 that require health care also involves additional services from nurses, health care providers and physicians. This is to ensure that health care and medical facilities are keeping up with the demands.
• Prescription Drugs
The cost of prescription drugs has also dramatically increased. The frequency of use also affects the cost of health care these days. There are three factors that influence the cost of prescription drugs. These are price inflation, sudden switches to using more expensive drugs and more drugs being prescribed.
Even the rise in personal income can lead to an increase in health care costs. This is due to the fact that people see to it that their health is not compromised as they improve their quality of life. As a result, they spend on things that extend their life.
What needs to be done to control rising health care costs?
• The request for additional health care systems needs to be carefully evaluated.
• Efforts need to be simplified as much as possible.
• Medical malpractice lawsuits should have reasonable limits.
• State government programs also need to make sure that full funding is available to people.
What are the options available to unemployed individuals?
There are a number of options available for people who have lost their health insurance due to unemployment. People often get health coverage from their spouse’s employer. There are also individuals who may be qualified for Medicaid when they lose their insurance due to work policies. There are also some states that provide other alternatives for people who have unintentionally lost their health care insurance.