Why is Medical Care so Expensive?

By now, most people know that getting sick is very expensive and the more serious the illness, the more money it will cost. With the entire buzz about healthcare reform, there still has not been a proven way to lower the cost of medical care. Who is to blame for these high costs—doctors, hospitals, nurses, sick people? It’s a culmination of several factors.

Most people seem to agree that better healthcare requires a higher level of service and more sophisticated technology. The old adage that you get what you pay for is certainly true when it comes to medical care costs. New technology can scan and detect things that might have been missed years ago. But new technology also means doctors and hospitals have to shell out more money. If patients want better care, they will have to pay for it. Fortunately, medical insurance usually picks up the costs of most diagnostic tests that are necessary. But for those who have no medical insurance, the cost of something like CAT scan or a full blood workup can be overwhelming.

Just about every medical professional these days needs to purchase medical malpractice insurance and this alone is a hefty expense. In this litigious society, doctors and nurses need to protect themselves from unfortunate mistakes or those seeking compensation for an unsatisfactory outcome. Depending on the type of practice a doctor has and the state he or she lives in determines the cost of medical malpractice insurance. In some states, general practitioners may only have to pay $4000 per year; $17,000 for OB/GYNs. That same OB/GYN can expect to pay between $85,000 and $142,000 in other states with higher premiums. These costs eventually get passed down to the patients.

Finally, doctors do not become doctors overnight. It requires years of education, interning and residency. Medical students almost always pay for their education through student loans. Those loans have to be repaid and doctors can certainly hike up the cost of their services to help pay them back.

Medicare Supplement Insurance is supposed to pay for most medical services including exams, tests, surgeries and aftercare. But some insurance companies require patients to either choose less expensive (and sometimes less effective) treatment options or pay for a bigger chunk of the cost of care.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much choice when it comes to health care – everyone needs it at some point. Perhaps the trick is to take better care of yourself now in order to lower the risk of needing too much care down the road.

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