Is Inflation Impacting Your Health?

By: Maria Alejandra Pulgar


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Inflation has impacted almost every aspect of our lives in the past two years. From food to gas, to rent, the increase in prices has hit hard the pockets of all Americans; healthcare and insurance are no exceptions.

 A recent survey by, a Florida-based debt education and resolution corporation, has found that more than half of Americans have medical debt, with 40% saying it is related to inflation. Beyond the fact that people are not able to pay for medical care, even with insurance, the survey found that 34% of Americans “have delayed medical care because of the cost, and 32% have skipped paying their medical bills.” Most of those bills are prescription or medical services co-payments, co-insurance costs, or out-of-pocket expenses not covered by the insurance policies.

The impact of inflation on the cost of prescription drugs is a major concern for many Americans. According to a recent article on Forbes, the cost of prescription drugs has risen by 33% over the past decade. This increase in cost is making it difficult for people to afford the medications they need to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.

Many are forced to choose between paying for their medications or other essential expenses such as rent and food. Delaying or ignoring medical bills payment can end up affecting not only your credit score but the stress of it can impact your mental health and quality of life. Healthcare is not a selective luxury.

The effects of inflation on public health are not limited to medical bills and prescription drugs. It is also affecting the cost of healthy food options. According to a report by the USDA, the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables has risen by 40% over the past decade. This increase in cost is making it difficult for many families to afford healthier options, which can lead to an increase in diet-related health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

This public health issue is not just limited to the United States. It is a global situation that is affecting people all over the world. According to a report by the World Health Organization, the rising cost of healthcare due to inflation is making it difficult for many countries to provide essential health services to their citizens. This is leading to an increase in preventable deaths and a decrease in overall health outcomes worldwide.


Why are medical costs increasing in the U.S.?

Healthcare costs, including medical services, insurance, medication, and medical equipment, are expected to increase by around 8.5% by 2024. Even though inflation peaked in 2022, the impact on health-related items is delayed because price agreements on contracts between insurance companies and providers last for several years before they can be updated with inflation.

Operational costs for medical services providers increased because wages and supplies costs were impacted by the pandemic, especially labor costs for clinical staff. The US is facing a shortage of registered nurses, technicians, and doctors who demand higher wages for their work. Another factor is the rising costs of supplies, pieces of equipment, services, new technologies, and innovative treatments and drugs. If providers are not able to compensate their operational costs and maintain financial sustainability, they may need to make cuts, which in consequence may affect the quality of care they deliver to patients.

Providers are now negotiating with insurance companies to increase their costs and pass them on to consumers through the increase of their premiums. According to Aon, a risk and health management consulting company, employee insurance premiums “rose an average of 1.7%” in 2023, while out-of-pocket expenses (deductibles, copays, etc.) for employees grew 5.7%. Workers need to budget for those expenses not covered, because otherwise, even though they have insurance, access to preventive care becomes difficult if they cannot afford copayments for medical appointments, labs, or other services.


How to manage medical costs?

Companies are trying to find better premium deals and lower prices for health insurance programs offered to their employees. Some are even considering the implementation of centers of excellence to provide employees with high-quality medical care at minimal cost.

Employees who have a company-sponsored insurance plan need to compare the different options available and choose the best for their needs and budgets. Those whose employer does not offer an insurance plan can verify on the marketplace if they qualify for subsidies or tax credits to make it affordable.

The medical bills can be negotiable with the providers if you cannot afford to pay them right away. You can reach an agreement and set up a payment plan or seek financial assistance. Many organizations provide grants or loans to cover expenses for certain conditions or treatments. For prescriptions, many laboratories offer discount cards or programs that make medications more affordable for patients. Ask your provider when discussing the use of certain prescriptions that might be too expensive even with insurance.

You do not need to be overwhelmed by your medical debt. Some organizations help you negotiate with your creditors and analyze your options to manage your debt and even avoid bankruptcy.

Healthcare inflation does not need to make you sick, nor to worsen your mental or physical health. Taking charge and organizing medical bills takes patience and attention to detail. The sooner you ask for help and talk to your insurance and your provider, you can organize your medical process and have access to the care you need in the most affordable way possible.


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