Americans deserve affordable and high-quality healthcare, which includes access to treatments and medications without emptying their bank accounts. But nowadays, it seems like the average American needs to choose between paying their bills and accessing healthcare.
The high cost of treatments and prescription drugs has become a burden for many hardworking individuals, while Big Pharma continues to roll in profits. Cancer patients, in particular, rely on innovative therapies and prescription drugs to improve their quality of life. Unfortunately, these life-saving treatments are becoming more inaccessible due to skyrocketing costs.
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States. It’s a complex disease requiring immediate treatment. Despite notable advancements in cancer research and treatments, the cost of cancer care continues to soar, shutting millions of patients out of the very resources that could help them survive. In fact, cancer care is one of the most expensive medical treatments in the country. The question is, why?
Factors Contributing to High Cancer Treatment Costs in the U.S.
The price of cancer care in the United States may be attributed to the following:
1. Research and Development Costs
Developing new cancer treatments takes years or decades of research and development. The process involves a range of stakeholders, including illustrious scientists, clinicians, and drug manufacturers.
The medications used in cancer treatment are often expensive, and pharmaceutical companies often justify the high prices by pointing to the cost of research and development. Insurance companies may only cover part of these drugs, leaving patients to bear the financial burden.
Compared to other countries that spend approximately $749 on drugs, the U.S. spends $1,443 per person on medication. Drug prices in the U.S. are also 256% higher compared to 32 other countries combined. Although private insurers may negotiate prices, Medicare – which pays for a substantial portion of the nation’s drugs – has no authority to do so. The outcome is higher medication costs for consumers and an evidently broken system that needs fixing.
2. Insurance Policies and Coverage
Some health insurance policies cover cancer treatments, others do not. To add, while insurance may cover some costs of cancer care, typically, one plan cannot cover all costs. Some policies may also have high deductibles or copays, resulting in out-of-pocket expenses for patients.
3. Administrative Costs
Administrative expenses, which include the cost of managing electronic medical records, billing, and similar tasks, are a leading cause of excessive spending on healthcare in the country. The United States spends 8% of its healthcare budget on administrative expenses. Meanwhile, ten other countries mentioned in a JAMA study only spend 1-3% on administrative operations.
4. Hospital Fees and Costs
There is no sugarcoating this one: hospital fees are expensive. Hospital care makes up 31% of the nation’s healthcare costs. In 2020, hospital expenditures increased by 6.4% to reach a total of $1.27 trillion.
Surgical procedures in U.S. hospitals also exceed those of other countries. For example, if you’re in the U.S. and need an angioplasty to open a blocked blood vessel, be ready to spend $32,230 on surgery. Meanwhile, patients in the Netherlands and Switzerland pay $6,390 and $7,370, respectively, for the same procedure.
As for cancer care in U.S. hospitals, in 2021, the median monthly cancer treatment expense per patient was $11,755 compared with $6,950 in Switzerland, $8,300 in Germany, and $7,355 in the United Kingdom.
5. Professional Fees
The United States offers some of the most remunerative salaries for doctors and nurses. Family doctors earn around $231,000 annually, while specialists can bring home up to $430,000 per year. These figures far surpass the salaries of physicians in other countries. Nurses also earn more in the U.S. American RNs make $74,250 per year, compared to $58,041 in Switzerland and $60,253 in the Netherlands.
Healthcare in the United States vs. Other Countries
Comparing the U.S. to other developed nations provides insight into the country’s high cost of cancer treatment.
Despite spending double on healthcare, a 2014 study found that the United States has lower life expectancies and worse health outcomes than other high-income countries.
Many other developed countries provide healthcare through a nationalized or socialized system. They involve government control over drug prices and employ a centralized approach to healthcare planning.
For instance, in the United Kingdom, the National Health Service (NHS) provides free healthcare to all citizens. While there may be wait times for certain procedures, including cancer treatment, overall cancer survival rates in the UK are comparable to those in the U.S., and treatments are less costly.
Similarly, in France, the national health system covers cancer care for all French residents, and patients have access to various treatments and therapies.
How Rising Healthcare Costs Impact American Cancer Patients
Expensive cancer treatments in the United States have been a financial burden to people across the country. Patients must pay out of pocket or seek out loans, leading to financial distress and bankruptcy. In fact, around 100 million people in the U.S. are in debt from medical bills. Many cancer patients also forego recommended treatments due to exorbitant costs, leading to worse health outcomes and higher premature mortality rates.
High Cost of Cancer Treatments in America: Justified or Unwarranted?
The high cost of healthcare in the U.S. has been the subject of ongoing debate and discussion.
On the one hand, proponents of the high cost of cancer care argue that it mirrors the quality and high-level innovation of the U.S. healthcare system. The U.S. also invests a significant amount of money in research and development, paving the way for new treatments and therapies.
On the other hand, critics argue that the rising costs of medical care in the U.S. is unjustified and leads to disparities in healthcare access and outcomes. During COVID-19’s peak, many argued that the current healthcare system prioritizes profits over patient care, resulting in unnecessary costs and inefficiencies.
The question of whether cancer care in the country is justifiably priced is complex, multifaceted, and controversial. Regardless, it might be time to reevaluate how the U.S. allocates resources in the healthcare industry and find ways to cut down on staggering expenses.
Americans Turn to Medical Tourism
Due to the rising cost of cancer care in their homeland, many Americans are traveling to Mexico for more affordable and non-invasive cancer treatment options. According to the CDC, Mexico is one of the top medical tourism destinations for cancer care, with millions of Americans seeking medical assistance each year. New Hope Unlimited is a prime example of a cancer care center in San Luis Rio Colorado. If you are searching for cancer treatments that won’t break the bank and focus on physical, social, psychological, and spiritual interventions, contact us to schedule a consultation and discover your options.