Suggestions Abound For Cutting National Health Care Costs

Two publications looked at the problem of rising health costs and ways to try to "bend the curve."

In a cover story, BusinessWeek reports: "None of the health-care reform bills on the table in Washington do anything meaningful to address that wasted $700 billion." The magazine lists 10 ways to cut costs, including: "develop a healthy workforce," "coordinate care through family doctors," "get patients to take their medicine," "discuss options near the end of life" and "use insurance to manage chronic disease" (Arnst, 11/12).

Meanwhile, The New York Times writes: "Which should we trust to rein in health care costs: the federal government or the private sector?  Seeking to make the case for less government involvement in health care, a brief analysis (PDF) by the Joint Economic Committee’s ranking Republican, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas ... concluded that countries with primarily government-run systems often do a worse job controlling cost growth than does the United States. The conclusion is that giving government more control over health care here would be a big mistake."

It is an idea with wide appeal, but these data, at least, do not support it. 'They extrapolate from one statistic to make conclusions about how comparative systems work that are at odds with what the broader evidence shows,' said Richard Saltman, a professor of health policy at Emory University, who has published an online critique of Mr. Brownback’s memorandum"  (Andrews, 11/12).

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