Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cost of Health Care; It Starts with Family Docs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cost of Health Care; It Starts with Family Docs

Article excerpt

The cost of health care simply cannot be allowed to outpace the general inflation rate, not when a massive number of boomers are about to enter their high-usage elderly years.

The number of people ages 65 and older will increase by almost 90 percent in the next 25 years.

The best way to promote quality and efficient cost relief is through good primary care.

Primary care physicians need better pay, more time to spend with patients and less concentration on fee-for-service payments. Private insurers are starting to reward doctors for quality treatment, more focus on outcomes than procedures.

Medicare costs have moderated in the last two years due to the slow economy, more cost sharing by health care plans and new models that reward quality over volume, reports the PWC Health Research Institute.

Visits to doctors' offices dropped by more than 4 percent in the last two years.

MEDICAL INFLATION

"The United States finds itself at a crossroads with respect to medical inflation," the report states.

Is the current cost slowdown just a blip? With millions of Americans scheduled to be covered by national health care, will spending surge again?

A few Americans are high-cost patients. Claims passing $1 million have risen steadily as more Americans deal with multiple chronic conditions.

Organ transplants for an aging population can top $1 million. As 1 in 8 babies are born prematurely, neonatal intensive care charges can top $3,000 a day.

POSITIVE INDICATORS

But the report sees hopeful signs:

- Employers are pushing wellness programs. …

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