2017 Trend #4: Healthcare Cost Challenges
Critics of the US healthcare system often cite studies and WHO reports that rate US healthcare outcomes and spending per person against those same statistics from other countries. According to the data and reports, we overspend for bad outcomes. This is a fair conclusion from the data. The problem with the data and reports is we overspend on healthcare in the US, to the tune of $10,345 per person per year, while we grossly underspend on social services. Our healthcare system serves as a safety net for the lack of social programs we provide. Since the healthcare system is our safety net, we constantly just put bandaids on problems and don’t ever try, because we don’t every have the incentives, to solve them.
Whether it’s our education system that cuts physical activities in place of test prep, our lack of services for homeless and mentally ill, our lack of services to help poor families to access healthy food, or our lack of assistance to families caring for elderly parents (close to 40% of our population), the result is that the US health system has to deal with a myriad of problems, and the associated costs of those problems, whose causes have nothing to do with the healthcare system.
Reducing Costs and Improving Outcomes
The tide in the industry is changing with an increasing acknowledgment that healthcare bears the brunt of the costs for our lack of social services. In the quest to reduce costs and improve outcomes in healthcare, at some point we need to examine some of the factors that are not under the control of the healthcare system and consider how best to solve those problems, not just the symptoms of those problems. This is not a political issue (or at least it shouldn’t be), it’s an economic one that has to be addressed if we’re going to achieve the triple aim in healthcare.
We will start to see more and more partnering between healthcare organizations (payers, life sciences, pharmacies, and providers) and community groups and programs. Like all things healthcare, it will be slow and grant funded initially to prove out pilots. Over time, integration of different entities will increase and we will start to see healthcare as a lot more than just doctors, nurses, payers, and life sciences.
Don’t miss the first three articles in this 2017 trends series.