A 20% tax on imports from Mexico, which has been proposed by the Trump administration as a way to fund the construction of a border wall, would likely apply to medical supplies imported from Mexico, according to Modern Healthcare.
The United States imports more medical supplies from Mexico, including more than $5.4 billion worth of supplies from January 2016 to November 2016, than from any other nation in the world.
- The report from Modern Healthcare serves as a reminder that national policy not directly tied to healthcare can still influence the industry.
It seems apparent that the proposed tax, if it is enacted and applied to medical supplies, would contribute to rising healthcare costs. Medical devices are already more expensive in the United States compared with prices in many other nations, as The New York Times reported in 2013. For example, the “list” price of a replacement knee joint, not including hospital charges, was $13,000 in the United States while the device and the procedure totaled $13,660 in Belgium.
While there has been a lot of discussion over the future of health policy under the Trump administration, policy in other areas can still have an effect on the industry. The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress are likely to pursue tax reform within the next year and that will most likely have an immense effect on healthcare.
Recent shifts in immigration and national security policy already seem to be having an effect. After the Trump administration took action to issue a 90-day ban on individuals traveling to the U.S. from certain countries, a resident at the Cleveland Clinic was unable to return to the United States, according to Cleveland.com. On the same day, a resident at Interfaith Medical Center was blocked boarding a flight to the U.S. from Sudan, ProPublica reported.
Many doctors working in the United States are from other countries, as Ford Vox wrote for CNN. The executive order could have a worsening affect on physician shortage. The profession has additionally been noted to be going through a period of burnout via administrative burden and lack of resources. The Association of American Medical Colleges stated 260 individuals from the countries noted in Trump's executive order have applied for medical residency in the U.S., Forbes reported. Care delivery systems need help as AAMC noted in April 2016 the physician shortage could be as high as 94,700 by 2025.