Recently Adam Linker and I (yes, that’s us on the cover to the left) were part of a great meeting put together by Consumers Union (the publisher of Consumer Reports magazine) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on health care costs. The aim of the meeting was to bring consumer advocates together with the best health policy people on health costs and start a conversation about how to get consumers involved in the important discussions going on right now about reducing costs in our health system. Although health care cost growth has gone down a great deal in the last few years, the US still spends significantly more than any other wealthy country on health care and we don’t get anything for it. Here’s the chart on costs:
This increased cost has a ripple effect throughout the economy. As related in the report:
“Health care spending consumes more than one of every six dollars we earn, but many consumers are often unaware of the real cost of health care. The impact of high health care costs goes beyond the sticker shock of a medical bill—it affects everyone and seeps into every segment of our lives. The impact is felt by individuals, families, employers, and those crafting state and federal budgets:
• Rising health care costs undermine wage growth. Between 1999 and 2009, almost
all increases in compensation have taken the form of paying rising health premiums and almost none have been allocated to increasing the take-home paycheck.1
• Rising health care costs put the squeeze on household incomes, as families struggle to pay for insurance as well as the care not covered by insurance or—even worse—go without needed care.
• Rising health care costs force trade-offs in our national and local government budget priorities, reducing the money available for education and other important programs.
Our current path is unsustainable and we know that good, quality health care can be delivered for less money. When compared to other countries, we aren’t getting the return that we should. Americans spend far more than patients in other countries, but these dollars don’t translate into better health outcomes. Too much health care spending is wasted on medical services that are not effective, are unnecessary or are even harmful to patients.”
Read the full report here.