The healthcare field is changing rapidly, especially in the wake of the first worldwide pandemic that shut down dozens of national economies. As governments and institutions claw their way back from near collapse, many of the predictions about health-related industries are coming true. Not only have costs begun to rise after a slow pause, but medical care is quickly getting back to its old upward trajectory in terms of price rises, delays in service, and complex insurance scenarios.
The leading stories that are already unfolding in 2023 include not only the return to business as usual for pricing but also a new trend in financing education for future medical students and doctors. Additionally, other major changes are taking place in government sponsored care, Medicaid and Medicare, both of which are gaining enrollees at record rates. Finally, medical myths still abound even in the information age. The irony is that misinformation seems to spread as quickly as accurate, reliable scientific facts. Here are details about the stories that are proving to be the most significant developments in health and wellness for the current year.
Healthcare Costs are Still Rising
According to a recent authoritative survey (WebMD, 2022) about 70% of consumers have delayed going to the doctor or seeking treatment due to the high cost of healthcare services. While the number is not a universal indicator of rising medical costs, it does provide a keen insight into the minds of people who can otherwise afford to visit doctors and take care of themselves via medical insurance coverage. But after a short break in price hikes during the first two years of the COVID pandemic, working adults are witnessing a return to the normal state of affairs, which is a routine rise in their out-of-pocket expenses and increases that outpace inflation.
One of the unique features of the current situation is that adults under the age of 45 tend to be more reluctant to fork over their hard-earned cash for procedures or regular office visits. Older adults, perhaps because they better understand the importance of consistent care, are less likely to delay getting the help they need for minor injuries and serious conditions. Oddly, only about half of the survey population said that they engage in any price shopping when it’s time to visit the doctor.
Student Loan Cosigners Help Future Doctors Afford Med School
While it’s true that many applicants don’t use cosigners on government loans, students who intend to seek private sources of funding should seriously consider finding a cosigner. There’s no better way to increase one’s chances for approval. The common reason is that young adults just don’t tend to have very much credit history, if any at all. That one fact can sink a loan app faster than anything else. A working adult who serves as an Earnest student loan cosigner can significantly improve a student’s chances for approval and advantageous rates.
Just by appending your name to someone’s application, whether the future grad is a child, employee, or friend, you not only give them a better shot at approval and favorable interest rates but also lower their total lifetime cost of the loan. Consider that after a four-year course of study, many graduates need about 10 years or more to finish paying off their education debt. However, when you cosign for them, it means they’ll potentially be able to repay the entire balance much sooner.
Medicare Advantage & Medicare are Growing Rapidly
In the US, one of the most significant health-related changes is the transition to government-funded care. As of late 2022, more than 90 million US adults are receiving some form of assistance (Forbes, 2023) from Medicaid. However, an even more shocking statistic is the number who get Medicaid, Medicare, or subsidized healthcare from ACA (Affordable Care Act) providers. That number is 158 million or close to half the national population.
Five years ago, when all those programs were already in place, those stats would have been considered extreme. That’s mainly because those receiving any form of Medicaid have always been quite small, and ACA subsidies were not yet in full swing. The pandemic gave legislators unique reasons to write laws that granted widespread subsidies to the majority who were paying the full price for ACA plans through their state programs.
Like Medicaid, there’s big news from the Medicare front as well, where the usage rate for Medicare Advantage plans is now nearly as common as traditional Medicare coverage. When it first went into effect in 1997, few opted for the non-basic coverage, which came with lower or no premiums but restricted choices for doctors and specialists. However, it appears that 2023 will be a watershed year due to the increasing popularity compared to regular Medicare coverage. Look for more older adults to choose specific HMO-like offerings from their growing list of choices.
Medical Myths Still Abound
Even in 2023, there are plenty of myths to go around. Even in the information age, it’s easy to fall for the most common myths in this category. The good news is that it’s easy enough to verify any fact you hear from a friend or in a discussion forum. The top offenders include misinformation like the following:
- Deodorant causes breast cancer
- It’s important to drink 8 glasses of water every day
- Multivitamins are a core part of personal well-being
- Knuckle-cracking leads to arthritis
- Greenish mucous is a sign of a cold or flu
- Eating eggs is bad for the heart
All six items on the list have been around for decades, some for more than a century. However, not only does deodorant have no relation to breast cancer, but eggs are a healthful food for most. Additionally, the color of a person’s mucous has no relation to their overall wellness, multivitamins are generally unnecessary, arthritis is not connected to cracking one’s knuckles, and most get plenty of water from their regular daily intake. Whenever you hear something that sounds like a myth, check it out on an authoritative website or ask your doctor. Get the facts before blindly following unverified practices.