Do you have questions about Medicare? You’re not alone. Medicare is complex and takes time to fully comprehend. The official Medicare handbook is 120 pages long if that’s any indication of how much information there is to cover. Thankfully it’s available online as a resource if you ever want to read it.
With the upcoming 2020 election beginning to focus on healthcare as a major campaign topic on both sides, the most recent poll by Gallup has shown that Americans remain split on their opinion of the Affordable Care Act colloquially known as ObamaCare. The recent poll shows Americans almost evenly split on the issue of Obamacare, reflecting that healthcare remains one of the hottest political topics of the last decade.
Since the year 2000, the average U.S. household spending on healthcare has grown from $1,369 to $3,492. A whopping 255% increase! While a big chunk of that can be attributed to the rise in health insurance costs, one of the aspects many don’t consider is the steep increase in the cost of many prescription drugs. The striking thing is that this growth is generally not coming from new drugs with big research and development costs, but raising the price of currently offered medications. A recent report in the journal Health Affairs found that the cost of brand-name oral prescription drugs rose more than 9 percent a year from 2008 and 2016, while the annual cost of injectable drugs rose more than 15 percent. The price of insulin, for example, doubled between 2012 and 2016.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) gave millions of people the ability to purchase and use health insurance, many for the first time. This was achieved not by making the monthly premiums cheaper, in fact the average premiums in 62% since 2014 for an individual. Many of those who have gained health coverage since the ACA became law rely on the premium subsidy officially known as the Advanced Premium Tax Credit. This subsidy allows individuals and families who make between 138% and 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to only pay a portion of the total monthly premium with the rest being paid through the federal government. It is not uncommon to see an individual paying just $50 a month for their health insurance, which let’s be honest, is fantastic!
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