near future. An article in the Huffington Post Business Section cited exponential increases that took place in 2011, contributing to the need to mend this deficit. With health insurance companies and Medicare paying 5.8% more for healthcare services over the past year and private insurance costs rising 7.7%, it is clear that a solution is necessary.

Pricing discrepancies on healthcare costs are completely dependent on what hospitals and providers charge, which points a finger at who is responsible for the convoluted pricing structures for care.  Patients across the country are begging for price transparency and ways to save money on their own medical costs, due to the immense amount of growth we have seen in uninsured Americans. 

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Medical industry professionals aim to reduce costs as well, in hopes of cutting health care spending, as the United States spent $2.6 Trillion in 2010, which is ten times more than what was spent in 1980.  Medicare and Medicaid have implemented reimbursement cuts in order to reduce spending, however it has only pushed health care providers to raise their prices for private insurance plans and placing more fiscal responsibility on the patient’s shoulders.  This has led a large portion of American families, employers and employees to adopt the self-paying patient system, which forces the patient to shop smarter for affordable services.  The unfortunate backlash of this, is that unemployment and a downturned economy has led many of these patients in need to forgo treatment they need in favor of saving money.  Even those with employer-paid health insurance have seen increased costs.

Future plans aim to control these skyrocketing costs, however it is as imperative as ever for patients and families to take matters into their own hands, as to avoid getting lost in the intricate pricing system.  It was also recently reported that a quarter of adults (26%) experienced gaps in coverage during 2011, leaving them without insurance and monstrous costs to be responsible for, if care was needed. However, through patient education and an open dialogue with physicians, in addition to a little price shopping research to find affordable options, patients can receive the quality care they deserve, no matter their situation.

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