November 28th, 2012
By all accounts, health care in America has been ailing for several decades. Americans have struggled with acquiring and maintaining adequate health insurance as costs have steadily increased. While the increased insurance coverage provided under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will help individuals access and pay for health care services, the ACA’s impact on cost, which will be shifted but not eliminated, seems likely to be less substantial. Developing new approaches to rein in spending and improve the value of care delivery remains a critical challenge for all of the diverse players in the health care arena.
We know that there are a number of drivers of health care costs. New, more expensive medicines and technology — and particularly technology that brings with it only incremental benefits — are obvious factors. A related issue is the overuse and misuse of certain procedures and tests. Finally, the burden of treating a population with high rates of chronic illness brings with it significant costs and presents an increasing challenge as rates of chronic illness grow.
Putting clarity into the health care system. To truly bend the cost curve, we need to take a holistic approach. While the call for transparency in the health care system is a common one, we need to also be thinking about how we can move beyond transparency to insist on clarity across the health care system. Clarity is achieved by giving people information that they will find useful to their decision-making process and empowering them to act on that information. Such clarity must take place on two different levels: macro and micro.Read the rest of this entry »