Speaking of health care costs…

The cost of healthcare is on the minds of many today, as the U.S. government begins encouraging employers (and sole entrepreneurs) to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) as a means to cutting costs. The plans offer a tax-free savings account in which you deposit up to the amount of the deductible in your high-deductible health plan and can use it to pay your health bills (incurred under your high-deductible health plan).

Read more here about the newest twist that Medical Mutual is pushing–HSA-Plus plans that let you lower your premiums by upping your deductible–to as high as $5000.

“Given the amazing discoveries that science is making every day that lead to longer lives that need more medicines, more treatments, etc., what possible way is there for the cost of health care to go down?” I posed that question to the head of Cleveland’s University Hospital systems during a recent panel discussion on that topic. His answer: The cost of healthcare will go down when people have to start paying for it themselves.

Good point. And that’s exactly where the HSA concept is taking us in the U.S. In countries that have nationalized medicine, people don’t pay–but they run into the kind of freaky situation in this BBC NEWS report. A woman who suddently starts having epileptic seizures–a certain sign that you should get medical help immediately–calls for an appointment and is told she faces 56-week wait

The fact is, it looks like people are going to be paying for their own healthcare more and more, no matter what system is in effect. Sometimes they’ll pay with money and sometimes with their health–or their lives.

This is how it used to be, folks. But now that we have all these miraculous cures, maybe there’ll be nobody who’ll take us up on ’em. Or maybe…we’ll just have to start taking alternative medicine a lot more seriously.