Part of the POLITICAL ISSUES AND POLICIES SPECIAL REPORT
As nearly everyone knows, America’s healthcare costs are astronomical and likely to continue rising. A Health Affairs study just projected national healthcare spending will grow an average of 5.5 percent every year through 2026. As Martin Gaynor, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University said at last week’s West Health Institute 2018 Healthcare Costs Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C.: “Healthcare spending is high and it is ultimately unsustainable.”
What can be done about it?
The answer to that question is critically important to all Americans, but especially to those in their 50s or 60s who “are some of the hardest hit by this healthcare cost crisis,” said West Health CEO and President Shelley Lyford. They tend to have high out-of-pocket costs; healthcare expenses can be a huge outlay in retirement, too. “For so many, one severe illness could mean financial ruin or even bankruptcy,” Lyford said. A recent RBC Wealth Management study estimated that a healthy 65-year-old couple today can expect to spend more than $400,000 on healthcare in retirement.
At the West Health summit, which drew around 500 attendees, Gaynor and numerous experts offered recommendations to bring healthcare costs down. (West Health is a family of nonpartisan nonprofits focused on healthcare research, policy and philanthropy.) Said Lyford: “We have a healthcare system that is draining our resources, weakening our country and limiting our ability to fulfill our most basic responsibilities to our citizens. It doesn’t have to be this way. We must do better.”