How Much Does Healthcare Really Cost in the United States?

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ISO Customer Care | Dec 21, 2022 Insurance

We’ve all heard nightmarish tales of the costs of healthcare in the United States. People receiving bills for services costing thousands of dollars are sadly not uncommon to hear about. Our system has pointed instances like the one previously mentioned as flaws to our system, and it is due to one simple reason: people are not aware of their healthcare costs.

Providers have one primary reason to avoid transparency in their service costs – profit. Whether it means not making profit due to patients not being able to pay or hiding a much larger cost than a patient would expect, we would like to provide you some price transparency for your reference.

What The System Is Now

Healthcare services were first normally paid in trade goods, but when local governments began licensing doctors in the late 1700s, healthcare entered into being a fee-for-service industry. Since then, it has not changed much - due to the largely privatized nature of our healthcare system nowadays as well as the advancements of treatments and life-saving techniques, cost of care has gradually increased over time.

Nowadays, fee-for-service relates to a system where patients will pay for any treatment, visit, or service they receive through our healthcare. This can be beneficial for patients looking for a variety of services, as the U.S. system will allow them access to exactly the treatment they seek, as well as the choice to decide whatever treatments they feel is best for them.

The issue with this is that it penalizes patients who are not fully aware of their condition and rely on their trust on doctors to tell them exactly what they need. Similarly, to maximize profits, doctors will happily push more treatments or tests if it means making more money for their prescribed services.

The reason why people are blindsided by the average American hospital visit cost of $2,607 (which skyrockets even further if you stay overnight) is that they are not made aware of how much their services cost. Otherwise, if given the option, patients would seek more cost-affordable treatments as easy as if they were shopping in a retail environment.

Common Procedure Costs

Here is a list of common medical resources and procedures in the United States, and how much their costs are:

  • CT Scans –Between $270 - $4,800
  • X-Rays – Between $100 - $1,000
  • Ambulance Usage – Between $400 - $1,200
  • ER Visits – Costs up to $20,000
  • MRIs – Between $375 - $2,850

As evidenced by these prices, it is very apparent that the cost of medical care in the United States can easily be in the upwards of thousands of dollars, especially when additional treatments can be requested at the patient’s discretion.

Much of the upper end of pricing shown above can be common for those without insurance, so if you are not already, you should consider enrolling in an ISO plan to cover you during occasions of sickness and injury.

Tips To Beat The System

While the fee-for-service system creates a healthcare environment that favors high amounts of services with an even higher price tag, there are ways to get around and reduce the costs for the services you'll receive. According to the price transparency law, hospitals operating in the United States are required to provide the costs of their services, which can be done upon request or found if the provider has their costs listed on their website. This is a great option for those looking to make more informed decisions about their potential healthcare.

If you are already seeking treatment from a specific provider, and can foresee issues in payment for their services, they can also be resources for establishing ways to resolve billing issues. These include cheaper options for local care, cash payments that may be discounted if paid promptly, setting up payment plans, or even requesting for discounts from your doctor's office.

Additionally, for services related to receiving prescriptions - generic prescriptions, over-the-counter brands, and warehouse club drugs all act as cost-effective alternatives, as they normally cost significantly less than their name-brand counterparts, while still acting to the same standard.

The realm of healthcare in the United States has remained consistent over several years, placing a huge difference between itself and other countries around the world. While professionals are working to implement more efficient systems to assist both providers and patients, we still live in a time when insurance is highly necessary to securely enjoy the benefits of American healthcare. If the costs shown haven’t convinced you to start a plan, we only hope you won’t have to see them in the form of bills.

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About ISO Student Health Insurance

Founded in 1958, ISO prides itself on being the leader in providing international students with affordable insurance plans. Administered by former and current international students, we are able to assist our member with multilingual customer service in Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, and more. ISO serves over 3,200 schools/colleges and more than 150,000 insured students every year.

For more information, please visit www.isoa.org and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn.

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