Natalie D. Michigan

Rising Cost of Healthcare

Dear Future President, I would like to address my concerns about the cost of today’s healthcare. Families all across America are dealing with the stress of paying medical bills and wondering why they are paying so much for something that they need. Did you know that there is a potential bill of $3,421 for an ambulance ride of only 200 feet? The United States pays an astounding $2.9 trillion dollars on healthcare. (Elisabeth Rosenthal). Families all across the United States, on any rung of the economic ladder, are struggling to keep up with the expenses of something that should be an unalienable right, not a luxury. The number one cause of bankruptcy in America is failure to pay medical bills, and that is another reason that clearly validates that the cost of healthcare is too high. There are many elements that contribute to making healthcare a hardship and a burden for Americans. A man with two healthy teenage daughters has explained that there has been a large rise in premiums which has forced his family into a high-deductible plan and to pay medical bills by borrowing against their home. Another woman explained that even though her family had good insurance coverage, she was surprised by the rise in out-of-pocket charges. She had to pay $3,500 out-of-pocket for a temporary splint for her son’s arm. Scenarios like these are a few reasons why some Americans are less likely to get treatment because of cost. Many Americans try and turn away from their symptoms and avoid seeing the doctor because of the potential cost, regardless of whether they have insurance coverage or not. These patients also wish that the doctors would discuss costs with them directly. Physicians say that they are unprepared for discussing costs with patients and do not know how much treatments will cost because of different insurance plans. Many of these patients don’t gain any information about the cost of their treatment until they receive their bill in the mail. If doctors would discuss these things with their patients then they could explain the reasons for the costs and avoid blind-siding them when the bill is received. (Elisabeth Rosenthal). One factor that is contributing to making healthcare unaffordable is prescription drugs. The cost for prescription drugs has dramatically risen in the United States. According to consumer reports, 33% of Americans have paid an average of $39 more out-of-pocket for their regular prescription medications, and 10% paid as much as $100. The drugs that have seen the highest increases were drugs for asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes, which went up by more than 10% last year and all of which are very serious conditions. (Sreedhar Potarazu). This is causing some Americans to cut back on other daily expenses. These cost increases don’t just affect the people who need these prescription drugs. The cost increase also affects employers and insurers who require consumers to pay a larger share through monthly premiums and rising copays. State Medicaid programs for the poor are affected, as well as Medicare programs with people who have fixed incomes. Another factor that is contributing to making healthcare unaffordable, which is a very personal factor to me, is the increase in price for EpiPen. The EpiPen is an injection device that is lifesaving for those who suffer from allergies. When injected into the thigh, the EpiPen releases epinephrine, a drug that reverses swelling, closing of the airways and other symptoms of severe allergies. In 2007, pharmacies paid less than $100 for a two-pen set and the price has been steadily increasing since then. This May, the price has spiked to $608.61, an unbelievable difference since 2007. (Tara Parker-Pope and Rachel Rabkin Peachman). My brother suffers from reactions to bee stings and peanut allergies. It is important to my family that he has his EpiPen with him at all times. Some doctors recommend that two pens be carried around at all times just in case another dose is needed. This is especially difficult considering the price to add another pen. The other downside of the EpiPen is that it has expiration dates. When these EpiPens expire, families are forced to purchase new ones if they want them to work properly. Mylan, the pharmaceutical company said that they offer a $100 coupon that means most people don’t have to pay anything for the pens. The rise in price affects every consumer differently depending on the charge of their pharmacy and their insurance plans. Those with high-deductible insurance plans and those without insurance plans at all are paying about $640 a set, said Michael Rea, the chief executive of Rx Savings Solutions in Overland Park, Kansas. (Tara Parker-Pope and Rachel Rabkin Peachman). Some parents are even considering not buying new pens after the old ones expire because of the cost. This is a huge risk that they are taking and a difficult choice they are forced to make as well. The Government’s role in healthcare is a topic that has many viewpoints attached. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, strives to provide more Americans with insurance by expanding Medicaid eligibility and offering cost assistance through places in the healthcare market. The law has done what it has strived to do which is to provide more Americans with health insurance. However, there are still millions of Americans who don’t have health insurance. Even though there are only about 10% of Americans who don’t have the insurance, that still accounts for about 30 million people. The law has still done some good things that we can’t deny. The ACA has fixed the dysfunctional individual insurance market. Many people who did not have work or government-based health care could not buy their own insurance because they were sick or because the coverage being offered was not relevant to the services that they needed. The ACA created insurance exchanges to help customers compare, choose, sign-up and pay for health insurance. The ACA has also improved the Medicare program. Medicare enrollees received new coverage for preventive services and annual checkups. Over the longer term, the law created several payment experiments intended to improve the quality of care Medicare patients receive and lower costs. Although the Affordable Care Act has definitely made a significant change in healthcare in our country, change still needs to be made for those 30 million people left without insurance. (Julie Rovner / Kaiser Health News). The cost of healthcare is clearly too high in the United States. Out-of-pocket prices, and prices of prescription drugs and EpiPens are just a few of the factors that are making healthcare a burden for Americans. As said by Senator Bernie Sanders, “The United States today is the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people as a right.” “Mr./Mrs. President, please take all of these thoughts into consideration and really think about what these people need. The people of America should not be paying a small fortune for something that is a necessity to them. I am urging you to please find a way to make healthcare more affordable for the people of this country.

Avondale High School

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Rick Kreinbring's 2016-17 AP Language and Composition students

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