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2020 Healthcare Forecast: What You Need to Know

January 10, 2020

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A better future requires new strategic objectives for the healthcare system. This means that future policies may need to address problems such as pricing and inequality in medical care, and also provide patients with better choices and innovations in prevention and care.

Policy changes prompted by criticism have already set the tone for major transformations in global healthcare, and the US is no exception. American policymakers may need to develop new strategies to deal with the numerous problems facing the system. But what are the chances of success and how many adjustments will it take to get there? 

Health Inequalities and Costs in the US

Companies and employees will probably pay more for health insurance in 2020. Large companies expect the average costs of healthcare coverage to reach $15,375 in 2020, up from $14,642 in 2019. The cost projection comes from the National Business Group on Health and it takes into account both employee and employer contributions to health insurance. Almost half of the companies surveyed said they will use cost-management strategies to cut down future surges in healthcare costs.

“Health benefit costs are still rising faster than overall inflation. And with the economy slowing, employers know they can’t afford to be complacent,” states Tracy Watts, Mercer’s National Leader for US Health Policy.

While employers are faced with decisions on how to tackle the new costs while still providing their workers with good benefits, employees should expect more than one revision of their plans. Employers may choose to limit the list of providers an employee can contact to a specific region. This might be one decision that will ensure that workers will have lower premiums and deductibles, albeit with a regional restriction.

Virtual care programs may also be a solution in 2020, as they provide workers with a new way to avoid costly visits to hospitals and emergency rooms. As the US spends more on healthcare than any other developed country, technological innovations are seen as a potential tool to level the field. 

Do Americans Pay More for the Same Services?

Compared to other developed nations, the US spends an unreasonable amount of money on healthcare. While it’s true that wealthy countries tend to spend more on healthcare and services than underdeveloped nations, when it comes to the US, the amount spent on care and medicine seems unreasonably high—even when compared to that of similar income countries.  According to the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker, the US spends almost 30% more than the next highest per capita spender (Switzerland). This makes America the country with the largest healthcare spending worldwide.

While some are content with their private insurance plans, most American adults believe medical costs, in general, are too high. With healthcare expenses moving gradually out of reach and premiums and deductibles rising, solutions seem hard to find.  Future policies might include cost-effective care and medicine, but they might also mean more taxes in an effort to reduce health inequalities.

Equality, respect for human rights, and higher transparency from all health-care providers seem to be the most popular public demands. But these are also goals that require new strategies and technological innovations, as well as better policies that can be successfully adapted to the US market.

The Future of New Technologies Looks Bright

While policymakers are struggling to develop new strategies to improve healthcare, correct inequalities, and establish the best medical proposals for future generations, today’s scientists are also looking for ways to innovate. Small low-cost ultrasound gadgets, virtual reality apps that boost healing, and artificial intelligence (AI) systems that can surpass human radiologists when it comes to diagnosing lung cancer are but a few of the cutting edge technologies that are revolutionizing healthcare as we speak, according to Time Magazine.

By engaging with patients via telemedicine or virtual care, medical providers can lower the costs of their services using video, audio, and instant messaging to communicate with remote patients. These services may allow many patients to avoid unnecessary visits to hospitals, thus saving time and money, while still enjoying the best medical services available to them. Most of the large employers surveyed by the National Business Group on Health expect investments in virtual care programs to increase in 2020. 

“Virtual care solutions bring healthcare to the consumer rather than the consumer to healthcare. They continue to gain momentum as employers seek different ways to deliver cost-effective, quality healthcare while improving access and the consumer experience,” CEO Brian Marcotte stated.