There are many issues facing the state of Health Care in this country. Health Care costs continue to grow along with the number of uninsured in America. With the explosion of Medicaid costs, the expansion of Medicare and the high costs of prescription drugs, there are no easy answers and no quick fixes.
Prescription drug coverage is dropping as drug costs are going up. According to an October, 2004 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a quarter of the increase in cost of prescription drugs has been the result of manufacturer price increases on existing drugs. Retail prescription prices have increased an average of 7.4 percent a year from 1993 to 2003. That is more than double the average inflation rate of 2.5 percent.
Many elderly people have been crossing the boarder into Canada to purchase cheaper prescription drugs financed by Canada’s socialized health care system. There has been talk of official United States support for the drug traffic out of Canada, but with the re-election of President Bush that has become unlikely. A report by the C.D. Howe Institute concluded Ottawa should ban the internet pharmaceutical industry to make sure provincial health-care budgets aren’t hit with higher drug costs. In the US, Medicaid costs continue to rise along with hospital and drugs costs.
Medical costs are rising because of liability lawsuits, technological advances and the shortage of certain workers, such as nurses, pharmacists and radiological technicians, said Jim Alexander, technical director of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, a trade group for financial managers of hospitals and other medical providers. The average cost of a hospital stay rose 52 percent, from $9,814 to $14,957, between 1993 and 2001, federal figures show. President Bush hopes to stem the costs of liability lawsuits by eliminating frivolous court action.
There are 43 million Americans living without health insurance. A recent report for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said those who lack insurance are less likely to get needed medical care or to have a personal physician, less likely to get preventive care, and twice as likely to be in poor health or fair health. A separate survey of 1,954 emergency-room doctors shows 74 percent of them say their patients without insurance are more likely to die prematurely.
“I don’t see anything on the horizon that suggests the ranks of the uninsured will do anything but increase,” said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a California-based philanthropy focused on health-care research, in an interview with the Associated Press.