BOSTON — Get ready to pay more at the doctor’s office, because health care costs could be going up in 2021.
The pandemic pushed the health care industry to extremes it’s never experienced before, and one local doctor warns the costs may be passed along to patients.
“I would expect some increase,” said Dr. Megan Cole Brahim, an Assistant Professor of Health Law, Policy and Management at Boston University’s School of Public Health.
“On one hand we have ICU’s that have been filled at rates we never expected. Then you have other providers where people just haven’t been coming in for care in the way that they would have, which has had really big financial implications for those providers,” Dr. Cole Brahim said.
Dr. Cole Brahim said there are four reasons your medical bills could up next year:
- COVID-19 patients put a strain on ICUs and emergency rooms across the country
- Many people delayed getting care this year, which means more people may undergo treatment and procedures in 2021
- Increased demand for mental health care
- Uncertainties with the cost of a vaccine and long term COVID-19 testing
“We don’t know what this vaccine will cost. There’s also a lot of uncertainties around what COVID testing really means,” Dr. Cole Brahim said.
The American Benefits Council conducted a survey of more than 100 Fortune 500 companies.
When asked what the potential effects of increased health care costs could be, more than 80 percent of the companies responded “increased premiums.”
“We have really good insurance, but I don’t like the fact that we’ll have to pay more for the same service,” Michael Poirer said.
Poirier just finished a 9-day stint at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The 51-year-old from Westminster needs a new heart and is about to be added to the transplant list.
“Maybe you can’t afford to go to the doctor for a quick visit. Maybe you can’t afford that $25 or $30 copay. I feel bad [for anyone who can’t],” Poirier said.
Dr. Cole Brahim predicts more people may opt for higher deductibles to avoid higher premiums in 2021.
“It’s been a really big burden I think for providers, for patients, there’s been a lot of uncertainty,” Dr. Cole Brahim said.
“I don’t know if health care providers necessarily have the answers. I think there’s a lot of uncertainty for providers as well,” she said.
Boston 25 contacted media representatives with Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, Anthem, United Health Care, Humana and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. They did not respond to emails seeking comment.
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