Why Obamacare Got Trump Elected -- And the Healthcare Crisis That Needs to Be Fixed

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 General News J E 4
Obamacare worsened our 30% healthcare waste problem, holding down wages for working class voters, HCMS says.

CHEYENNE, Wyo., Nov. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- In the many election post-mortems, it's clear that dissatisfaction with Obamacare helped Donald Trump win the presidency. What isn't clear is exactly why, or what the healthcare crisis is that needs to be addressed.

Flat wages fueled voter anger, and the crisis holding down pay is healthcare waste, according to Dr. Hank Gardner, the CEO of national healthcare reform company HCMS Group. Healthcare waste – over-treatment by providers and uninformed and risky over-utilization by consumers – accounts for 30 percent of our $3.2 trillion annual healthcare bill.

Healthcare waste has many outrage-inspiring faces. They include multi-million dollar salaries for health insurance, drug and hospital CEOs. They include astonishing price hikes for life-saving drugs. And they include countless expensive, needless, risky tests and drugs.

Waste was a pre-existing condition. The Affordable Care Act broadened access to insurance but made healthcare waste worse by prescribing four levels of coverage in public exchanges. However well-intentioned, this unbalanced risk pools so that insurance companies could never get premium revenue to match medical expenses. The same thing happened in employers' private exchanges.

The part that hurt Trump voters the most was that healthcare waste depresses wages – and has been doing so for years.

According to research by HCMS, wages adjusted for inflation have barely budged since 1960. Meanwhile, health costs have soared 10-fold to more than $9,000 a person. (See the research findings here.)

Another HCMS study showed that between 2013 and 2014, healthcare costs rose more than 10 percent for a group of 140,000 people in the HCMS database. Their wages went up just 4.1 percent (better than the general population's inflation-matching 2 percent). But for working-class people making less than $30,000, healthcare costs soared almost 17 percent while wages inched up just 0.5 percent. (See the study results here.)

"These are people who have had food taken off the table by healthcare waste," Gardner said. "Yes, repeal and replace Obamacare, but we need to address healthcare waste."

Don't count on a government fix. There are too many powerful special interests for government to make tough decisions. But private employers can use market-based, data-driven measures to lower healthcare waste.

That would be real healthcare reform.


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