Monday, April 29, 2013

Health Care With Less- Preventing Its Carelessness

U.S. health care costs are approaching $3 trillion dollars.  These escalating costs are threatening the future well-being of all Americans. U.S. spends per person $8,233 each year for such care. We spend more than two-and-a-half times more than most developed nations in the world, including relatively rich European countries like France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Our very health and wellness is in peril. Such expenditures have increased ten times more than just three decades before. Ironically, we are becoming victims of our own successes since people are living longer and new innovations are more expensive.  The changing nature of illness has sparked a renewed interest in the possible role for prevention to help control costs. Ironically, we lead the world in health care research and cancer treatment. What and how can we control costs and at the same time provide care? We must reform health carelessness with renewed form of care using less.

  • Technical advancements–new medical technologies has been cited as a primary contributor to the increase in overall health spending;
  • Medications and drugs- prescription drugs have been cited as another factor to spiraling costs.
  • Rise in chronic diseases – It has been estimated that health care costs for chronic disease treatment account for over 75% of national health expenditures. For example, there has been tremendous focus on the rise in rates of overweight and obesity and their contribution to chronic illnesses and health care spending. 
  • Administrative costs –  Increased administrative costs of government health care programs and the net cost of private insurance has also increased health care expenditures. Also public-private system creates overhead costs and large profits that increasing costs. 
Other possible common solutions are;

Reduce health care fraud and abuse- lessen fraud and reduce costs on consumers, employers and taxpayers. Health care fraud nationwide has been estimated to cost up to hundreds of billions of dollars each a year

Medical liability system- increase efficiency since it is estimated 20 to 30 percent of all health spending going to care that is wasteful, or redundant, our medical liability system generates billions of dollars in unwarranted costs each and every year.  By lessening claims of medical negligence and compensate patients who suffer injuries as a result of malicious or incompetent medical practice such reforms will reduce costs.  Some experts promote that evidence-based medicine approach to medical liability will protect both providers and patients.

Increase information sharing – this will allow consumers, employers, and public programs to make more informed purchasing decisions, lessen abuse and waste by stimulating public participation to curb costs.

Innovations in payment and delivery systems- create incentives to reward quality and promote evidence-based health care and assist physicians, hospitals, and other health care professionals in the design and implementation of payment reforms.

Reduce unnecessary medical visits-   seek opportunities to lessen patient’s time in hospitals and medical facilities so to avoid potentially harmful complications. Such measures can improved quality and lessen costs.

There are no easy solutions to today’s crisis in health care.  However, we must be assertive to remedy its current ills. We all observe how things are breaking down and now we must rebuild and champion wellness.  

We have to reform our health care system with both government leadership and greater market-based models that encourage greater competition.  Also lessening waste and encouraging preventative measures will promote wellness.  What are the low hanging fruit to keep costs down?  How can we as Americans lessen our costs?  What can government and the private sector do to make health care more affordable? No longer can we remain complacent with our broken health care system. Only with an asserted effort to reform health care can we keep costs in check and champion affordable medical services.

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