Health Care Spending: A Change In Behavior?

This pair of New York Times' stories examines how a recent "flattening out" trend in health spending may be the result of a change in behavior by both providers and consumers.  

The New York Times: In Hopeful Sign, Health Spending Is Flattening Out
The growth of health spending has slowed substantially in the last few years, surprising experts and offering some fuel for optimism about the federal government's long-term fiscal performance. Much of the slowdown is because of the recession, and thus not unexpected, health experts say. But some of it seems to be attributable to changing behavior by consumers and providers of health care — meaning that the lower rates of growth might persist even as the economy picks up (Lowrey, 4/28).

The New York Times: How One Hospital Bent The Cost Curve
Many economists and health policy specialists think that changes made by insurers, hospitals and doctors to emphasize the quality of care rather than the quantity of care is a major factor, and Children's Hospital Boston offers a good test case. But about four years ago, the hospital recognized the growth in costs as unsustainable — as many institutions in Massachusetts did after the state passed an individual mandate law. ... All in all, the hospital made more than 100 changes and cut tens of millions of dollars in costs (Lowrey, 4/28).

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