2020 saw a number of changes in the healthcare industry in the US, but what will 2021 bring? Here’s a look at some of the trends that will continue or emerge in 2021 in the healthcare field.
Continued Increase in Telehealth
The coronavirus pandemic and the physical distancing measures put in place as a result have given rise to an explosion in the popularity of telehealth. While virtual visits between physicians and patients were not new for 2020, interest and use grew rapidly throughout the year as healthcare practitioners made efforts to continue providing medical care without sacrificing safety to curb the spread of the virus. This interest in telehealth will continue to grow into 2021 and beyond as people continue to experience the benefits of the medium to meet their health care needs.
In fact, it’s expected that telemedicine will stick around for the long haul. By the end of the year 2023, it’s estimated that there will be approximately 64 million telemedicine users, which is triple what was seen in 2019.
According to research from CivicScience, telemedicine has been increasingly accepted and adopted by Americans. In January 2020, about 11 percent of adults in the US claimed to have used telemedicine. By July, that number more than tripled. And the percentage of those who claimed that they had no intention to use telehealth services was reduced by 25 percentage points over the same timeframe.
The year 2021 will likely continue to see telemedicine become even deeper-ingrained as part of the healthcare system.
Rise in Retail Clinics
Recently, retail medical clinics have been popping up all over the country. These medical facilities are conveniently located in retail stores, department stores and grocery stores, giving patients easy access to medical care. This rise in retail medical clinics will continue throughout 2021, with more and more retailers including them on their sites.
Not only are retail clinics very convenient, but they’re also more affordable. The average cost for a medical appointment at a traditional physician’s office is $166 for those who are insured, compared to $110 at retail clinics.
Americans can expect an ongoing trend of retail clinics opening up across the nation throughout 2021.
Changes in Prescription Drug Costs
The cost of prescription medication continues to increase, and this won’t change in 2021. Instead, the new year will continue to see rising drug costs.
Pharmaceutical companies increased prices on hundreds of medications by an average of 5.1 percent in 2020 alone. And the prices of more commonly-prescribed brand name medications are increasing even more, by as much as 7 percent or higher.
Drug makers generally set their sights on the start of each new year to increase the price of medications, and 2021 will likely be no different. Americans will need to figure out how to budget for such potential costs in the new year. Becoming a member of a health sharing program may be the ideal way to do so.
UHSM Helps Members Handle Healthcare Trends for 2021
UHSM is on top of each one of these anticipated trends in healthcare for 2021 with health sharing program offerings. Members can take advantage of unlimited telehealth visits with $0 consult fees. Plus, retail clinic visits can be eligible for sharing through a UHSM program membership, as long as the clinic is part of the First Health network. And prescriptions for medications can easily be filled thanks to UHSM’s partnership with the CVS Caremark network.
If you’re in search of a flexible and affordable way to deal with the expenses of healthcare in 2021, consider a membership with UHSM. Click here to see how much you can save with a health share program.