With the increased attention on healthcare, opinion makers on PolicyMic and elsewhere are seeking to shape the debate on the future of health policy, including the Affordable Care Act and proposals for Medicare. Correspondingly, since many voters and avid consumers are clamoring for media to go beyond the sound bytes and talking points and delve deeper into policy, the time is ripe for gaining a deeper understanding of the U.S. healthcare system and the scope of the challenges it presents for further reforms.
Rather than critiquing or defending either campaign's plans for U.S. healthcare in the future, I am offering a presentation that is designed to introduce the basic mechanics of the healthcare market, along with the major problems that make our healthcare system stand out from other countries. In particular, I make the case that the biggest driver of excess cost growth in healthcare is rapid adoption of unproven technology, which is related to policies that induce disproportionately high prices compared to other countries. Yet, well established research in the health policy field has shown that higher spending, including greater use of expensive technology, does not buy us better health outcomes -- a lesson U.S. healthcare has yet to apply, opting instead for a technological arms race that results in startling inefficiency compared to other nations. Various proposals are offered here that can help begin to restrain excess cost growth, centering primarily on greater use of comparative effectiveness research to inform purchasing decisions among all payers - both public and private, and including major purchasers as well as individual consumers. However, the recommendations presented here are not exhaustive and are intended only as a starting point for discussion. Also, there is a silver lining to be found in the lessons we can learn from understanding the U.S. healthcare system, which I offer as my main conclusion.
30 Slides That Get You Up To Speed on U.S. Health Care Policy