Sunday, May 15, 2011

Time to Get Together on Reducing Health Care Costs

As reported in the Wall Street Journal Reports Show Strain of Health Costs, two reports just came out showing that out of control health care spending are about the crush the entire system and our country along with it.  The first report is from the Medicare Board of Trustees which stated that unless something radically changes, Medicare will go bankrupt in 2024. The second report regards what we pay for health care.  Per the WSJ Health Blog:

"The latest Milliman Medical Index, which measures the total cost of health care for a typical family of four covered by a preferred provider plan (PPO), rose 7.3% to $19,393 in 2011. The per-employee cost more than doubled between 2002 and 2011. And the employee’s share of that cost now stands at 39.7%."

In other words, escalating health care costs are destroying business in America making an economic recovery almost impossible and the health safety net for our senior citizens (which working non-seniors currently pay for) will shortly disappear.

We can argue whether or not heath care in America should be entirely government run or completely private.  We can argue whether health care is a right for our citizens or an entitlement we can't afford.  However, reducing the escalating cost of health care should be something both sides can come together on.

An editorial in today's Washington Post looks to where President Obama and Mr. Ryan could possibly come together:

"The current debate has an ideological incoherence on both sides. Republicans endorse a premium support model for Medicare even as they work to undo the new insurance exchanges in the health-care law. Democrats distrust premium support when it comes to Medicare but support the exchanges, with sliding scale subsidies that amount to premium support, in the health-care plan. The problem of getting health-care costs under control is complicated enough without knee-jerk opposition being the default reaction to any proposal from the other side."

Given that the 2012 elections are not far away, it is unlikely that there will be any common ground seeking in the near future.  However, our country can not wait much longer for politicians to put away their partisanship and come together on the one thing that both sides can and should agree on: we are spending too much money on health care and it is bankrupting the country.

1 comment:

ACD22 said...

Thanks for this post. Health Care costs will indeed be the death of us all should they remain on their current trajectory.

The Milliman report was a good short read on the extent of the problem, but what's the answer? Economists say price signals are extremely important in the way markets behave. Without patients having a lot more of their own money at stake in health care, I think the pricing signals never get sent. I'd like and I think PCPs would like to see much more of the concierge model for routine health care.