How Medicare Affects Your Access To Healthcare?

The fastest growing expense in healthcare is prescription drugs. It has been seen that many seniors in the US do not have Medicare prescription drug coverage and they have to pay from their pocket to get the drugs.People who are entitled to Medicare believe that quality service by doctors is just meant for patients from higher socioeconomic strata of the society. These are the same patients who might have supplementary coverage to their Medicare. The question that is being asked is whether the US healthcare system treats patients with Medicare differently compared to those who have a more thorough coverage.As people access the healthcare system in the US, they move through 4 stages. Preventive care is where the screening happens and the patients start an ongoing relationship with the doctor. Diagnosis starts the access to a hospital and getting admitted. Treatment is when care is provided so that you overcome your illness. Finally there is the follow-up where you listen to the doctor’s advice and have the ability to get the required medicines. Medicare has influence in all these stages and affects your access to healthcare services.How Medicare affects your access to healthcare is clearly illustrated by this example. Imagine that your doctor puts you on lipid lowering medication. However, Medicare will not pay for one cholesterol test a year. This way you do not know whether the medication is helping you or not.It is quite common in the US to see patients in their 70s to take up a menial job to pay for their medications. People from lower socioeconomic strata are struggling to get prescription medicines all because of lack of government funding and the growing size of elderly population due to improved medicine and technology.It is a vicious cycle and one thing is for sure that Medicare affects your access to healthcare services, especially if you do not have supplementary coverage. Your doctor will prescribe life-extending medicines and interventions, while you will be unable to pay for them because you do not have Medicare coverage.

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The Rise and Rise in Healthcare

Health care cost have been rising way over the cost of living for all us for many decades now. This is the case whether you are serviced by a public sector or private sector health service or a mixture of both (as is most common).What is going on? Why are we paying ever more high costs for healthcare?There appear to be a multitude of reasons to choose from:
1. Drug and healthcare equipment inflation
2. More treatments and more drugs being available
3. Increased longevity
4. Subsidised and insured health increasing demand
5. More access to self-diagnosis/amateur diagnosis (internet)
6. Healthcare more widely available in the third world making healthcare resources more stretched
7. Increase in preventative care resulting in inevitable waste (providing healthcare for those who are not ill)A long book could be written about drug inflation and that is just the first topic. However, this is surely more of a symptom rather than a cause of higher health costs. My hunch is that no.2 is the greatest reason for higher healthcare costs: increased availability for treatments.The problem with healthcare is that it doesn’t follow normal supply/demand patterns, especially in western countries. If we have eaten well then we can say we are full. Demand has been fully satisfied. However, healthcare is different; the goalposts are constantly on the move. There was a time when most people would only see a doctor if they we were too ill to function. Then we started to lower the bar to the point when even a mild headache could trigger a doctor’s appointment (for some people at least). Then as our health improved more emphasis was put on measures we could take to prevent illness and live long and agile life. The goalposts are moving yet again with recent forays into cosmetic treatments.I offer no judgements but merely observe. Surely it is a good thing that we are healthier? However if we are under increasing financial pressure and stress as we try to find money to pay for all of this, where should the line be drawn?Does the stress caused by the higher cost of living makes us less happy? Is mental health being sacrificed in favour of physical health? We have a greater quantity of life but are we getting the quality of life to go with it?Perhaps time will tell