Arturo Gomez Molina
One of every $3 will be spent on health care in the U.S. by 2040, Ave Sims, assistant professor of health services management predicted during her lecture Tuesday in the President’s Dining Room.
Sims discussed “Medical futility and its Impact on National Health Care Expenditures and Health Care Outcomes,” which focused on the misconceptions of national health care spending.
“There are two sides to medical care,” Sims said. “The actual medical side where patients receive the help and care that they need and the business side.”
Sims analyzed the data that has been collected by Medicare, a health insurance and care provider, over the last three decades.
In 2010, former president Barack Obama signed in the Affordable Care Act, which required all U.S. citizens to have health care coverage and for private insurance plans to cover preventive services without patient cost-sharing.
Within 16 months of the law passing, the cost of health care doubled, Sims said.
Sims’ research presented the misconception that the older generation, citizens between 50 and 65 years old and older, are the most costly to national health care spending.
Of the $1.627 trillion that was spent on health care, only $208 billion was spent on individuals in the last year of their lives.
Individuals who received care in the last year of their life only made up 13 percent of the annual spending according to her research. It’s actually younger generations who are being diagnosed early on with chronic illnesses that are the most costly to the United States, Sims said.
“We have a seen a drastic change in the diagnoses we give today,” she said. “There have been teenagers that I have diagnosed with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and that used to be so unheard of.”
In order to change the pattern of becoming chronically ill so early on, there needs to be a lifestyle change, Sims said.
“We see the competitiveness of eating junk and drinking alcohol,” Sims said. “If only we could get this same enthusiasm about going to the gym we could see some real change.”
Though Sims’ research was detailed, she said there is still a lot of information missing because this information came from only the Medicare data. This one source did not collect everything that she needed.
Cost for in-home care, dental, hearing aids and all other services paid out-of-pocket are not being accounted for in the Medicare data.
“It is true that health care is a product and with more data there would be so much more we could learn how to upgrade the quality of our health care,” Lorali Mossaver-Rahmani, junior anthropology major, said. “There is no true system that regulates our health care and that is what hurts us.”
During the question and answer portion after the presentation Matthew Witt, associate professor of public administration, expressed his concerns about the consumerism of health care.
“Health care providers are feeding and making money off of the sick,” he said. “This shouldn’t be a system where we are shopping for health care. There should be a system that just helps those in need.”
The US has 784,626 health care companies. 97,288 of those are in California, more than any other state.
“Her presentation was thorough, comprehensive and full of research,” Professor of Humanities Al Clark said. “It is astonishing to think that in 2040, one of every $3 will be spent on health care in the U.S.”
Arturo Gomez Molina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.