Battling The Rising Costs of Health Care

It is probably safe to say that most people realize that medical costs have risen dramatically over the years. The days of going to see your hometown doctor with a chicken under your arm for payment are certainly over. When things are simpler they are usually cheaper. Today’s modern age has many benefits, but it costs and it costs big. To name a few factors that increase our healthcare costs, here are the three major costs that health care providers have to contend with:

  1. Equipment
  2. Personnel
  3. Building and Maintenance

An ambulance ride can cost over $1200 for a trip less than five miles. One reason for the extreme billing is that most insurance companies do not pay the full bill. This starts a cycle of shortfalls that first responders cannot carry. Most first responders are supported by the local municipality or county government, many of which just simply do not have enough funds to go around. Some are non-profit organizations, trying to make their way through grants and donations.

Ambulance services have become creative in raising funds. Some offer a membership plan for a small fee. In the event that the member uses the service of the company, any fees not covered by their insurance will be forgiven.

As with many things, costs can vary from one service to another, mainly depending upon geographic location and the population. Inner city squads deal with larger populations and high rise buildings. Rural Mountain areas have farther to travel and must navigate rough terrain, often covered in snow most of the winter. While the inner city squad may need more ladder trucks, rural areas may need canoes, rock climbing equipment and four wheel vehicles. Water trucks are another necessity for rural companies that can cause the costs for services to escalate. Even simple, small equipment costs are more than the average consumer has to deal with. An axe can cost as much as $120, times the number of trucks the company owns. Radios are another expense that may seem nominal, yet they average around $800 a piece, times the number of squad members. The costs add up fast!

Have you ever noticed that some small hospitals do not have certain equipment such as an MRI machine? That is because it can cost one to three million dollars for a new machine! Think about the type of equipment just a small community hospital needs to maintain such as: x-ray, computers, sterilizers, instruments, beds, cots, food carts, washers, dryers, just to name a few. In some cases, surgical instruments are so expensive to buy that hospitals lease them from the manufacturers.

The second cost to consider is personnel. A registered nurse averages $53,000 per year; a physician assistant averages $77,000; while a physical therapist averages $62,000 per year. This does not include insurance premiums and social security matches made by the employer. Personnel costs can account for over half of a hospital’s expenses.

The third cost includes building and maintenance. Since this is a long-term debt expense, including the cost for loans and maintenance, often consumes up to 31% of a hospital budget. That, of course, depends on the condition of the existing buildings, and new constructions. Across the country, the average new construction costs for hospitals are anywhere from $185 to $500 per square foot. A small addition of just 22,000 square feet can cost as much as 11 million dollars.

After reviewing just a few of the costs attributed to health care, it is no wonder why health care costs have gone up, and no wonder why insurance costs have followed suit. So what can we do to help manage our health-care expenses as patients?

Well, first we can look into purchasing supplemental health plans like accident, critical illness and cancer policies. These plans are great for filling in the gaps that insurance policies leave. Cancer insurance can pay you just for keeping your regular cancer screenings. Plus, if cancer is detected, it will help pay for almost everything that the health insurance policy will not cover.

Another type of coverage that can help is having an ICU Rider added onto your supplemental plan. ICU stands for Intensive Care Unit and is offered with some Cancer Insurance companies. The ICU Rider covers you for things not related to cancer, such as accidents, on-the-job incidents, and other illnesses, such as stroke, heart attack, or any other illness that causes you to need ICU care. It is another feature that can help cover the gaps left by rising healthcare rates and denials by health insurance companies.

Your health is the most important asset you have to protect and you can better protect yourself by purchasing a cancer insurance policy, with the ICU rider if available. Protecting your health, as well as your finances, as it picks up where your health insurance leaves off. Having these policies offers you the double protection and security of knowing that you won’t go broke just trying to keep healthy.

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