Can US Health Insurance Become More Efficient In The Future?
The United States healthcare system spends over $3 Trillion annually, with increasingly poorer outcomes and results per comparable healthcare dollar with other advanced economies. How can the practice of medicine become more efficient to reduce future costs and insurance?
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the U.S. now spends over $10,000 per person on health care each year, with projected health spending in the U.S. anticipated to grow at a rate of 5.8% a year through 2025. In the 2016 national healthcare budget, CMS reports more than $1 trillion for hospital care, $670 billion for doctor and related services, and $360 billion for drugs. The future U.S. demographics will drive entitlement spending including healthcare, Social Security and Disability, and will place an increasingly heavy burden on U.S. economic innovation and growth. The medical profession needs to find efficiencies in the system to meet normal economic growth rates of 2-3% in the future.
The current healthcare insurance debate in Congress is only exacerbating the problem. Access to quality care and appropriate funding (deductibles, insurance, etc.) is a critical support to the system, however the primary debate should be about the delivery of efficient medicine. The objective of every healthcare professional should be to contain costs and improve patient care. Thereafter, the objective of every policy maker and insurance executive should be to create efficient financing of costs and care.
In the future, the entire patient team (doctor, physician assistant, nurse, and providers) need to move aggressively into the age of advanced technology for each patient. For example, once the diagnosis has been determined and treatments have been planned, why not “plug” the diagnosis and treatment plan into a common use application for the patient and team to monitor. The patient and family will monitor the plan more often (perhaps daily), with the rest of the support team monitoring the patient as needed. The objective is to keep the patient away from the system as much as possible, by providing education and training to the patient and family to care for themselves at home.
As policy makers debate the healthcare system and insurance, there should be a much stronger emphasis on the primary causes of rising costs and lack of availability, rather than being solely focused on “insurance”. Insurance professionals can only create efficient financial structures for the underlying risks and costs. If the underlying system is forever inefficient or broken, then it stands to reason that the policy debate and insurance will also be forever inefficient or broken.