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Health Care Spending Explosion May Lead to a Drastic Solution

MANAGED CARE May 2008. © MediMedia USA
Editor's Memo

Health Care Spending Explosion May Lead to a Drastic Solution

John Marcille
MANAGED CARE May 2008. ©MediMedia USA

John Marcille

Health care spending averaged $7,026 per person in 2006, according to our cover story by contributing editor John Carroll. By 2017, that number will shoot up to $13,101, accounting for 20 percent of GDP (this year, it’s estimated at 16.3 percent of GDP).

Over the years, many approaches have been used to try to control spending, many of them becoming the subjects of stories for this publication. Without much trying, I can think of a dozen: disease management, pay for performance, formulary tiers, consumer-directed health care, managed Medicare, provider- quality ratings, wellness, cooperation among players, tax reform, employee education, wellness promotion, benefit-based copayments.

And capitation.

Still, the costs keep rising, thanks mostly to our inventiveness. A study by the Congressional Budget Office titled “Technological Change and the Growth of Health Care Spending” says that advances in technology account for about half of health care spending in the last several decades. Nobody wants to give up the technology, though.

Marylou Buyse, MD, director of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans who is quoted in our update on RomneyCare on page 46, will often ask audiences: “If you could take health care insurance premium rates back to where they were in 2000, would you?” Unanimously: Yes.

Would you go back to those rates even if it meant losing the technology gained since 2000? Unanimously: No. In fact, it’s a unanimous “no” even when the go-back-to year is 2005.

“I don’t think that there’s an appetite in the public to give up what it considers to be even marginal, incremental gains in technology,” says Buyse.

I don’t recall if we’ve ever done a cover story on rationing, but maybe it’s worth considering.

Meetings

Pharmaceutical Pricing and Contracting Conference Philadelphia, PA September 22–23, 2014
Private Health Insurance Exchanges Conference Washington, D.C. October 7–8, 2014
National Healthcare Facility Management Summit Palm Beach, FL October 16–17, 2014
National Healthcare CFO Summit Las Vegas, NV October 19–21, 2014
National Healthcare CXO Summit Las Vegas, NV October 19–21, 2014
Innovative Member Engagement Operations For Health Plans Las Vegas, NV October 20–21, 2014
4th Partnering With ACOs Summit Los Angeles, CA October 27–28, 2014
2014 Annual HEDIS® and Star Ratings Symposium Nashville, TN November 3–4, 2014
PCMH & Shared Savings ACO Leadership Summit Nashville, TN November 3–4, 2014
World Orphan Drug Congress Europe 2014 Brussels, Belgium November 12–14, 2014
Medicare Risk Adjustment, Revenue Management, & Star Ratings Fort Lauderdale, FL November 12–14, 2014
Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Forum Alexandria, VA November 13–14, 2014
Home Care Leadership Summit Atlanta, GA November 17–18, 2014