You have no doubt felt the pricing pinch as of late. In fact, most Americans are reeling from the recent increases in prices for major purchases, like a home, and everyday items, like the gasoline to go look at the homes. Inflation in items like these are very visible. However, the hidden giant in American inflation is healthcare.

If home prices increased at the same rate as National Health Expenditures since 1965 (when Medicare and Medicaid were created), then the average price of a home would be approximately $2.2 million, which is more than 4x the real number of $507,800. Using this same methodology, the average price per gallon of gas would be over $32, meaning it would cost you almost $500 to fill the 15-gallon tank in your SUV. Can you imagine that?!

The visibility of major and everyday purchases helps consumers react to price increases. Healthcare cost increases are subtle and are funded quietly through every paycheck, inconsistently through higher deductibles, and completely behind a curtain through employer contributions, higher taxes, and rising federal debt. The result of the opaque nature of healthcare financing is a system that has continued to increase in cost almost unchecked.

Healthcare is big business, but who is getting the money? There aren’t any major physician groups or hospitals in the Fortune 100.  Healthcare providers largely remain a regional, or even local, business. However, 40 percent of the Fortune 5 have health insurance as a primary business, and 40 percent of the Fortune 10 are health insurance or health-related as their primary business.

The non-health companies are Walmart, Amazon, Apple, Berkshire Hathaway, Alphabet (Google), and ExxonMobil. The health entities are CVS Health, UnitedHealth Group, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen.

I am guessing that average people on the street name the 10 largest corporations would miss these health giants. So, here’s my theory as to why Americans miss that 40 percent of the Fortune 10 are health-related — none of them provide healthcare as their primary business.

They aren’t healthcare providers. They are healthcare financing and distribution companies.

They are “middlemen” in healthcare. Yes, CVS Health and UnitedHealth Group now employ physicians and are opening clinics, but these lines of business pale in comparison to their Pharmacy Benefit Management profits. McKesson and AmerisourceBergen are pharmacy wholesalers, but they don’t do the research nor develop pharmaceuticals like Pfizer who create new drugs. The big dollars are going to entities that don’t provide care as their primary business.

If you think I may be casting stones from a glass house, you are right! Insurance brokers, like Holmes Murphy, are also smack dab in the middle of the “middlemen” category. We will never get the opaque inflation of healthcare under control until all of us in the middle commit to transparency in every transaction and to focusing our primary efforts to connecting patients to the medical providers, prescriptions, and programs that give them the best chance to get better. I can tell you, Holmes Murphy has been pushing for this all along.

Are you seeing this? I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to reach out and talk with us!