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Tag: Health Care Cost Containment

The Sweet Spot of Health Care Cost Containment

BY BEN WHEATLEY

As health care continues to move in the direction of unaffordability, policy makers are considering a range of options to bring down health care costs. The Health Affairs Committee on Health Care Spending and Value has identified four broad areas for reform, including administrative savings, price regulation and supports for competition, spending growth targets, and value-based payment. These measures appropriately target health care’s supply side and the excesses that exist in the health care system.

In this blog, I would like to highlight another avenue for savings: one that focuses on the demand side of the equation. It is possible to reduce health care expenditures by reducing the demand for care. This is distinct from rationing, which is the denial of needed care. I’m referring to genuine health improvements that make health care less necessary in the first place. This type of health improvement is the sweet spot of health care cost containment, benefiting both patients and purchasers.

In a previous blog, I posed the question: in an ideal world, how much would we spend on health care? I posited that in a perfect world, we would spend zero on health care because no one would be sick. While such a perfect world may be unachievable, having the goal in mind can serve to guide our way in the present moment—like entering a destination into GPS.  

Measures that promote genuine health improvement can alleviate the burden of illness while at the same time reducing the cost of care. They move us in the direction we want to go. In this blog I provide several such examples.

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