Why Are Costs Going Up?
Did you know that the amount you pay for health insurance has been going up much faster than inflation? That's because of a number of factors. The cost to research and develop the latest medical technology is huge. Brand-name prescription drugs have to make enough to recover all the money their manufacturers spend on research and development costs and advertising, which convinces people to ask for them when less expensive generic drugs work just as well. Billions of dollars are wasted on expensive care that isn't necessary, such as imaging services or emergency room visits for non-emergencies. And one complex factor is the make-up and health of the population, which is a problem across the country but particularly for Hawaii.
That's because of Hawaii's aging population. Our kupuna will make up about 20 percent of the state by 2030. And as folks get older, they tend to need more health care. Right now, there are about four young working-age people to cover the costs of each retiree. But by 2030, the ratio will shrink to two-to-one.
Another population issue is the increase in obesity and other chronic, or long-lasting, conditions. Every year, billions of dollars are spent to treat cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases related to couch potato lifestyles and unhealthy habits. And obesity is a big problem in Hawaii. A study found that about one in three kids entering kindergarten was overweight or obese. That can lead to chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes that are costly to treat.
And since health insurance works like one big pool where everyone shares costs, the increasing need for care for everyone will affect the cost to everyone one way or another. But there's hope – by living a healthy lifestyle, we can all help lower health care costs. And by changing the health care system with initiatives like patient-centered medical homes (PCMH), we can combat big cost increases.
Why You Need a PCP
We're all looking for that perfect relationship, right? Trust, compassion, friendship. Guess what? These are the things you should look for in a doctor, too.
Building a relationship with a primary care provider, or PCP, will help get you the best care possible. It's also a great way to contain rising health care costs.
Your PCP is your go-to guy or gal who oversees your care and sends you to specialists when needed. The more time you spend getting to know one another and the more information you share with your PCP, the better the relationship will be.
A doctor who really knows you – your and your family's health history and your current medical conditions – can help you make smart decisions about your care. If you bounce around from doctor to doctor, you could be disappointed with the care you get. And studies have shown that people who have long relationships with their PCP are healthier, which means fewer medical services and less money out of your pocket.
Don't wait until you need a PCP to find one. Start building the relationship now so they'll have your back when you really need them.