8 reasons our health care costs will continue to rise

May 2, 2022

Americans’ health care costs took a short dip during the pandemic, largely because most of us stayed home and postponed elective, preventative and even chronic disease treatment.

However, it didn’t take long before our collective health care spending rose again. The Hill recently published the top eight reasons we can expect health care costs to keep going up:

  1. Providers’ costs have increased.

Hospitals, physicians, labs and others have been hit with the same higher fuel and supply costs the rest of us have seen. Hospitals also face staffing shortages and are paying higher costs for nurses. That is all passed on.

  • When it comes to negotiating prices with insurers, providers have sympathy on their side.

It’s been a tough couple of years for hospitals and physician groups. They’ve saved countless lives and at a personal risk. So, when it comes time for them to negotiate new pricing contracts with insurance companies and others, providers have a built-in negotiating strength and the benefit of favorable public opinion.

  • The cost of prescription drugs will continue to rise.

No surprises here. Big Pharma continued to make big profits, even during the pandemic. There was a temporary slowdown of research and approvals for new drugs not related to COVID. As the pandemic eases, watch for an increase in the number of new and expensive drugs coming to market.

  • Preventive and chronic disease care was missed during the pandemic.

Childhood immunizations, cancer screenings and other procedures were postponed or even skipped during COVID. Now we face the consequences of that delayed or avoided care.

  • Long-COVID could be expensive.

Researchers are finding that as many as one in six who have recovered from COVID-19 continue to suffer symptoms six months later. Some symptoms are lasting and serious. At least 10 drugs are under investigation to treat Long-COVID. They may improve quality of life, but they are also likely to be costly.

  • The pandemic has worsened our mental health.

As The Hill reports, untreated mental illness is associated with substantial preventable medical costs. And the trauma many experienced can last for years.

  • Government programs that paid for COVID-19 vaccinations and treatments will expire this year.

The federal government underwrote the cost of vaccinations and other COVID-19 medications since the start of the pandemic. (Private insurance and employer-sponsored health plans paid for administration costs). Now the government’s funds are running out, and it’s uncertain whether they will be replenished.

  • People will lose their Medicaid benefits that were extended during the pandemic.

While some people will switch over to employer-sponsored health plans, we are also likely to see an increase in those who are not insured. Unfortunately, that could shift higher costs to us all.

Do you worry about your health care costs rising in the coming years? Share your thoughts (and your selfie!) with Voices for Affordable Health.