As health care cost continue to rise faster than at any time in history it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet the cost of medical treatment without health insurance. For many people however the cost of medical care without insurance is measured in far more than the simple financial cost.
Health care spending is rising faster today than at any time in history and a staggering 80 percent of all Americans now say that they are dissatisfied with the manner in which health care is both managed and funded. Indeed, 60 percent of all Americans went as far as to say that they were very dissatisfied.National health expenditure in the United States is now nearly $2.5 trillion (which represents more than $7,500 per person) and this figure is expected to rise to more than $4 trillion over the next ten years. At present this is more than twice the health care spending in countries such as Switzerland, Germany, France or Canada and is more than four times the amount the United States spends on national defense.In short, the United States spends more on health care than most other industrialized nations (many of which provide health care for all of their citizens) and yet, despite this incredibly high level of expenditure, there are more than 47 million Americans without any form of health insurance. This is a national disgrace!But this of course is only part of the picture because things are often little better for those with health insurance. The cost of medical insurance is now so high that half of all Americans cite it as their top economic concern and an increasing number of people are either limiting their cover to meet their budget or accepting what are in reality already unmanageably high deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses.Every 30 seconds somebody in the United States files for bankruptcy as the result of a serious medical problem and more than half of all bankruptcies today are in part the result of problems with medical bills. Indeed, the average medical bill debt for people filing for bankruptcy is now $12,000.When we talk about the cost of medical care without health insurance we are not talking just about the financial cost but are also talking about the cost in terms of ruined lives. Of course medical bills do not force everybody into bankruptcy, but many families are forced to make significant changes to their lifestyle to pay their medical bills and millions of Americans delay treatment for often serious medical conditions simply because they cannot meet the cost.In this Presidential Election season it is not surprising to find that health care, and health insurance in particular, comes high on the agenda but will it simply be used as a political weapon to get votes or will there be a significant change in direction during 2009 to begin to solve this enormous problem? Only time will tell of course, but a look back over the past few years can hardly inspire any of us to believe that, whoever ends up in the White House, he or she is likely to be able to do anything to make a significant difference for those of us who want nothing more than to provide adequate protection for both ourselves and our families.