Healthcare Trend Watch — Healthcare Costs Are Difficult for Many Patients

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

This post is taken from an article by Robin L. Rose, MBA VP, Healthcare Resource Group, HealthStream, where she looks ahead at the coming year, with an eye to big picture trends that could have a significant impact on how we provide and experience care.

Nothing in Healthcare Should Be Taken for Granted

The healthcare industry is changing dramatically. Many reasons, such as ever increasing prices, the growing senior population, provider shortages, and a lack of affordability, even for many with good insurance, are driving change. New technologies, such as artificial intelligence, are slowly infiltrating the industry. Industry disrupters are seeing opportunity amidst the turbulence, and usage and practice patterns are changing dramatically as the industry attempts to move from fee-for-service to value-based care. Although change always takes a bit longer than we think or expect, it is inevitable in this case. When we look back in 10 years, healthcare practice and delivery may be unrecognizable from what we experience today. The following trend exemplifies the transformation that is under way.

Healthcare costs are becoming scarier than the illness itself

U.S. healthcare costs continue to rise, averaging more than $10,000 a year per person in 2016 (Gillies, 2018). According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), premiums for family plans increased 5% in 2018 to an average of $19,616, while individual premiums increased 3% to $6,896 (Richman, 2018). According to Richman, “Premiums rose twice as fast as workers’ earnings and three times as fast as inflation in the 10 years since 2008… Deductibles have grown even faster than premiums.” The KFF noted that average deductibles grew eight times faster than wages since 2008. These annual costs are nearly double what is spent for similar services in other developed countries, according to a recent study by researchers at the Harvard Chan School (Blumberg, 2018).

In a recent poll by the University of Chicago and West Health Institute found that Americans actually fear the cost of their healthcare more than they do the illness. The study found that 33 percent of those surveyed were “extremely afraid” or “very afraid” of getting seriously ill. In contrast, about 40 percent said paying for healthcare is more frightening than the illness itself (Gillies, 2018). Unfortunately, costs are so high many neglect needed care. Some 44 percent of Americans said they didn’t go to the doctor when they were sick or injured because of financial concerns, and 40 percent said they skipped a recommended test or treatment. Shockingly, 86 percent of these respondents had good health insurance (Gillies, 2018).

Additional Healthcare Trends to Watch

Other trends identified in this article include:

  • Amazon is becoming a major disrupter in many areas of healthcare
  • Healthcare costs are becoming scarier than the illness itself.
  • We need to prepare for new health risks.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is dramatically changing healthcare.
  • We are finally addressing population health.
  • CMS is changing course.
  • We need more joy in the work of healthcare.
  • The nursing shortage is getting worse.
  • Physicians are in short supply too.
  • Digital healthcare organizations are emerging.


Blumberg, Yoni, “Here’s the real reason health care costs so much more in the US,” March 22, 2018,

Gillies, Trent, “Why health care costs are making consumers more afraid of medical bills than an actual illness,” CNBC, April 22, 2018,

Download the complete article here.