America's Healthcare at Stake

Article excerpt

Dear Mr. President:

Healthcare access, quality and costs inevitably will constitute a significant part of your policy agenda given the economic strain Americans are facing in their lives and businesses. The United States spends far more of its gross domestic product on healthcare than other First World countries. Yet, we achieve poorer outcomes - and leave 46 million people without healthcare coverage.

Numerous studies have revealed great inefficiency in the U.S. healthcare system. Waste of U.S. healthcare resources alone runs 30% or more. Before public policymakers anguish only about the increasing proportion of healthcare spending on public programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, their first task is to ask the hard question: Why does the United States spend so much for uneven coverage with frequent errors and the inconsistent application of proven, evidence-based processes in a field including so many unhappy providers?

A great deal of money is on the table already. The United States spends nearly $7,000 per person per year on healthcare, whereas other advanced countries spend slightly more than $4,000. While you are considering how. best to extend coverage to more Americans - a prime political issue - the United States needs to remedy its inefficient and ineffective spending on those already covered, in both public and private programs. In addition, healthcare consumers are paying more out of pocket than ever, even if they have coverage.

We will certainly need big-policy leadership, but the art of executing the job at hand must involve transforming America's current culture of care so that people will benefit directly from those changes. …