High health costs are one of the biggest financial challenges facing families, businesses and federal and state governments today. In recent years, rising health care costs have wiped out a decade of middle-class income gains and have made employer investments in hiring and business expansion more difficult. Over the next eight years, health care spending is poised to grow to nearly $15,000 for each man, woman and child in the United States—a 50% jump from today’s $10,000 in per capita health care expenditures.
Yet this enormous investment doesn’t always deliver the health care we need and expect. The seminal Institute of Medicine publication, The Healthcare Imperative, estimated that one out of every three health care dollars is wasted on goods and services that have zero positive impact on patient health.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Today, innovative private sector companies and promising public sector initiatives have found ways to achieve meaningfully better health care at a significantly lower cost. What has been missing is federal health care policy that aligns with and supports these efforts.
Laying the foundation for more affordable health care need not require enactment of sweeping legislation. Instead, a few targeted, bipartisan policies can put in place the building blocks for change: