Healthcare Costs and their Adverse Affects on the U.S. Economy

U.S. healthcare costs are consuming large portions of our nation’s gross domestic product and threaten to cripple our economy in the years ahead. Businesses are wrestling with the growing burden of healthcare expenses. Individuals and families are facing higher deductibles and healthcare expenses that are eating into their household budgets.

Even though we all know that healthcare costs are going up, it is less clear what is driving that spending and whether the exorbitant costs are bringing higher quality. The real question is – are consumers and purchasers paying more and getting less? And can’t we do better?

Watch this video on the role of Physicians Leading Change and their role in reducing the cost of healthcare.

To date, efforts to control healthcare costs have taken a primarily top-down approach. But because of the diversity in delivery systems, it is unlikely that a single effective national approach can be implemented. The only effective and sustainable way to reduce and slow growth in healthcare costs is to restructure healthcare delivery and payment systems, and engage key stakeholders in the process. That can only be done at the community level, where care is delivered. Thus, the most effective strategy for reducing costs and improving the health of the population is developing and supporting community strategies that involve all stakeholders, using accurate and actionable data to change all aspects of care delivery.

No single constituency acting alone can achieve necessary change. Individual regions are proving that Regional Health Improvement Collaboratives (RHICs) – multi-stakeholder forums in which employers, providers, patients, unions, health plans, government leaders and other community members come together to understand and mutually address collective challenges –- offer the best chance of success. Identifying cost drivers specific to a region/community is the foundation on which cost-reduction efforts must be built. To help identify opportunities in a community and foster a sense of engagement to improve healthcare, it is important to have information on cost, quality, and health – for both an individual community, and for other communities.