It’s Time to Shed Light on Healthcare Spending

As much as 40 percent of American healthcare spending brings no benefit.  The healthcare system in the United States significantly under performs every other industrialized nation, with the result that too many Americans either die or are harmed every year.  This is the opinion of Louise Probst, Executive Director of the St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition.  Writing for the Commonwealth Fund, Probst says that “Since the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) executive summary to its landmark report To Err is Human was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the IOM estimate that up to 30 percent of all healthcare expenditures pay for care with little or no health benefit fails to shock.  Experts now predict that 40 percent or more of all spending has little or no benefit.  Meanwhile, the average cost of health insurance for a family of four has grown to more than $14,000 annually.”  The Commonwealth Fund promotes a high-performing healthcare system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable — low-income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children and the elderly.

According to Probst, “High healthcare costs create significant suffering for American families, businesses and governments.  Other leading nations spend half of what we do on healthcare, making it increasingly difficult for families to retain their standard of living and for American businesses to compete in a global economy.”  Each and every American pays the nation’s healthcare tab indirectly through smaller paychecks, higher taxes and health benefit costs hidden in the price of non-healthcare goods.  Compounding the situation is the fact that the jobs that the nation needs to make up for these costs are being outsourced to nations where healthcare is cheaper.  “The outcome is soberly clear:  In 2009, one of even seven Americans lived in poverty and 50 million Americans were uninsured, according to the U.S. Census,” Probst said.

Why is it that healthcare consumers know so little about spending and the waste associated with it?  Probst says that “Despite consistent calls for price and quality transparency from the business community since the ‘buy-right’ movement of the early 1980s, the IOM’s call for action more than a decade ago, and the sustained effort of many labor and consumer groups, our nation has yet to achieve meaningful transparency.  As long as price differences remain opaque to patients and their physicians, there is little hope for improving the affordability and efficiency of American healthcare.”

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply