The average health care bill for a family of four living in the Miami area in 2011 will be $23,362. That's more than any other major metro area in America, and a 120.5 percent, or $3,969, more than the national average. Considering that national average for health care cost has more than doubled in nine years, and employers are paying less and less of your medical bills, it adds up to a crisis.
The numbers come from the just released 2011 Millman Medical Index which "measures the total cost of healthcare for a typical family of four covered by a preferred provider plan (PPO)."
The average cost for a family of four nationally is $19,393. Back in 2002 that cost was only $9,235, so health care costs have more than doubled in just nine years.
Those numbers include bills paid by insurance provided by employers, but companies are increasingly trying to control their costs and passing on the bill to employees.
"Employees' share of the total cost is at an all-time high, having increased from 36.8% in the first year of the MMI (2005) to 39.7% in 2011," reports Millman.
The report doesn't indicate why Miamians pay so much more as it only tracks different metro areas to illustrate that costs vary through out the nation, though a Time magazine story in 2008 (when Miami also topped the index) helped to explain some of the reasons:
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Miami's cost problem isn't a medical supply-and-demand issue. In fact, it's just the opposite, says Linda Quick, president of the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association. As a result of the deluge of doctors and hospitals that have moved to the retiree mecca since the 1960s and '70s, chasing the lucrative Medicare business as well as the area's population boom, South Florida has an "excess capacity of health-care providers and institutions," Quick notes. And to make sure they all get a piece of the action, they've created a wasteful and ill-coordinated system of health-care redundancies, from unnecessary MRIs to inpatient treatment that too often could have been cheaper outpatient treatment. Miami-Dade, for example, has one of the nation's highest hospital readmission rates -- and more MRI machines than Canada.
What Miami does have a shortage of is primary-care physicians -- and that comparative lack of preventive care has created too much reliance on more expensive specialized and emergency care.
Miami's inordinate health care cost problems are nothing new, but politicians on both the local and state level have done very little to address it.