Health Care Reform, Post 5: Access to Care

Is it possible that health care costs would decrease and not increase with better access to health care?

Health Care Costs are Concentrated

Costs are not equally distributed across the US population. From the Kaiser Family Foundation:

While discussions about the costs of health care often focus on the average amount spent per person, spending on health services is actually quite skewed.  About ten percent of people account for 63% of spending on health services; 21% of health spending is for only 1% of the population.  At the other end of the spectrum, the one-half of the population with the lowest health spending accounts for just over 3% of spending.

Here’s a Gini graph of this data:

Concentrated Health Care Costs

If costs were equally distributed, they would line up on the diagonal line.

Costs of Delayed Access

The sicker somebody is, the more likely that they will have much higher medicals costs. And the later a life-threatening illness is diagnosed, the more expensive it will be treat. Delayed diagnosis usually means the treatment of Stage III or IV cancers and that treatment is very expensive. People without health insurance are much more likely to be diagnosed at stages III and IV. Researchers calculated risk ratios for high stages of cancer comparing insured to uninsured patients. Their conclusion is:

If health care reform extends coverage to a large proportion of adults who are currently uninsured and provides benefits equal to or better than Medicare coverage, the proportion of patients diagnosed with late-stage cancer is likely to decrease, particularly in subpopulations with low rates of coverage.

Access to Health Care

People without monetary resources or health insurance or  forego seeing doctors:

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

So my hypothesis is that more insurance -> earlier diagnoses of life-threating diseases -> lower health care costs.


About ViAnn

Progressive retired geek who loves to play golf
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