Posted February 18, 2016
On average, Americans spend $1,318 out of pocket before health insurance starts covering a portion of their bills, according to a 2015 Employer Health Benefits Survey. This represents an 83 percent increase from 2005. With the United States spending $3 trillion annually on medical costs (an average of $9,500 per person), the future of the U.S. health care system is a critical discussion topic.
Researchers at the American Enterprise Institute identified five questions Americans need to ask the current presidential candidates:
1. Who will be involved in decisions on future health care directions? Currently about 45 percent of all health care spending is coordinated through government channels, such as Medicare and Medicaid. The other 55 percent is directed by people through purchases of employer-sponsored plans, individual coverage and private or public exchanges. The next president will have a role in determining whether this spending process will remain as is or whether the government will assume more control.
2. How will the policy goals of the next president improve the value of health care choices? Most candidates offer only general goals for the U.S. health care system, such as lowering costs, increasing choices or providing access to more people. More specific details and directions are needed. How will proposed changes improve health care? Should the American people or politicians decide?
3. How should the U.S. balance commitments for health care spending against economic growth? The current health care model shows that health care commitments to Americans will exceed revenue dedicated to support them. Presidential candidates should share proposed policies to correct the problem, such as:
- Curb excessive spending
- Identify other sources to increase revenue
- Require individuals to pay more out of pocket for care vs. depending on the government and insurance
- Develop ways to get more for less, including bidding for government programs that provide public care
4. What other health care delivery systems should be considered? As the nation struggles with financial commitments for health care programs, presidential candidates may push universal health care as the best solution. However, other possible solutions may include revamping insurance costs by requiring more cost sharing, narrowing provider networks, limiting benefits and designing coverage choices based on prices people can pay. Americans need to ask candidates for specifics on the policies they would introduce to balance costs and increase access to coverage.
5. What is the schedule for changing or repairing the health care system? A new president is inundated with many decisions after taking office. Candidates should specify when they will review the nation’s health care system and identify plans to repair or change it. Making dramatic changes to existing programs may create friction and dissention. However, breaking ideas into bite-size changes may be easier for people to digest. It’s important to know how candidates will address these concerns.