Date Published: 01-16-2023
Topic: News


 

 

A person has their head down on a table while lifting a sign that says "help"

By Dr. M Reza Mizani, LASO Health founder, and Tim Kaufeldt, LASO Health CEO

Spiraling costs of healthcare push many into unsustainable levels of medical debt. Learn how LASO Health can help you manage costs while restoring your direct relationship with healthcare practitioners.

The medical debt crisis

An estimated one in three Americans reports difficulty paying medical bills. People living with chronic or long-term illnesses often accumulate medical debt from the routine costs of healthcare. One common source of medical debt is the cost of hospitalization, especially emergency room visits.

According to a 2022 Lending Tree survey, about 43 million U.S. adults have medical bills on their credit report, which account for $88 billion in total outstanding medical debt. In fact, medical debt has prevented 72% of families from reaching milestones such as buying a house or starting a family. People with unaffordable medical bills also report higher rates of difficulty affording housing and other necessities, credit card debt, bankruptcy, and barriers to accessing health care.

Unfortunately, health insurance doesn’t cover all medical expenses. Virtually any type of health care can put you in medical debt, with the most common types including diagnostic tests, hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and outpatient services. Unpredictable, unavoidable medical procedures often trigger insurmountable healthcare bills, meaning practically anyone can be affected by medical debt.

Rising costs mean more people are delaying medical care

Rising healthcare costs have become the top reason why people delay seeking medical care.

Consumers surveyed in 2022 stated that the high cost of healthcare services (46%) and higher costs of living overall (43%) are the most common reasons to delay healthcare, according to Qualtrics research. Only 12% said lack of medical insurance was the primary reason not to see a doctor. The study also revealed that 26% of consumers surveyed chose not to fill a prescription because of the high cost in the past 12 months.

Nearly half (48%) of consumers in the study said they deferred the care they needed in 2020. By 2022, the number has improved slightly, but only to 43%. Plus, 43% also said they were unlikely to seek care if it meant taking on debt.

With so many delaying healthcare due to rising costs, it’s only a matter of time before we face the unsustainable impacts on many Americans’ physical and financial health.

When health insurance is no longer insurance

Costs and restrictions are the top reasons healthcare insurance policies fail many Americans. Health insurance can still be expensive even for those with health insurance coverage from their employers. Monthly premiums and high deductibles can be very challenging for an employee on a tight budget or self-employed individuals. Healthcare coverage for families may also be an added financial burden.

Even with insurance, consumers may need to wait at least one year after starting a new policy to get reimbursed for certain medical procedures, such as knee cap replacement, hernia, and cataract treatments. People with chronic or pre-existing diseases must also undergo a waiting period (typically four years) before insurers will cover expenses associated with the condition.

Health insurance premiums are increasing yearly at an unsustainable rate for most American families. According to a 2020 eHealth survey, the average family health insurance plan has a deductible of $8,439. For many families with a high-deductible health plan, paying for most healthcare expenses comes from their pocket.

As more people choose high deductibles to save on expensive monthly costs, the reality of paying directly for medical costs means that healthcare, even for the insured, is increasingly out of reach.

The solution? Restore the healthcare consumer’s direct connection to healthcare professionals

Health insurance gained traction as a modern concept during the Great Depression when it was nearly impossible for many Americans to pay for medical care. By 1939, Blue Cross and Blue Shield launched to provide affordable hospitalization plans for workers. By the post-World War II era, more workers faced wage freezes with a resulting inability to pay for medical care. As a result, employers began developing benefits packages offering group health insurance instead of wage increases.

As healthcare costs began to rise over time, commercial insurance companies also began offering health insurance plans to individuals and families. By 1963, Blue Cross and Blue Shield were no longer the only health insurance companies. More than 900 companies had started to write comprehensive health insurance plans because health insurance had become a lucrative business.

The modern health insurance industry was born out of a financial need to manage costs. That model no longer serves our population as it did before. As more people seek health insurance, healthcare costs and insurance premiums have skyrocketed, while restrictions on who you can see and what insurance will pay have made healthcare insurance unusable for many Americans.

In the modern health insurance marketplace, comparison shopping is the best way to find affordable healthcare that meets your needs. Thanks to the internet, it’s easier now than ever to find healthcare practitioners with the best prices for medical procedures.

LASO Health connects consumers to vetted, top-notch physicians who can offer affordable, transparent pricing on a wide variety of healthcare services – making sure that patients never get a big surprise bill. LASO Health is free-to-use, with no subscription required. Regardless of insurance status, LASO lists set prices for the most common healthcare procedures so consumers can compare prices and medical professionals before selecting one that meets their needs.

LASO also helps healthcare professionals looking to reduce overhead costs of billing and processing payments. Our streamlined secure billing system sends payments from consumers booking on the LASO app directly to your back office.

If you are a health and wellness provider, join us in our effort to provide affordable healthcare that everyone can access, regardless of insurance status.  For more information on becoming a LASO provider, please visit us or call (210) 624-7715.

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