John Curtis: The U.S. Is Missing the Mark on Health Care Policy

By Curtis, John | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), November 5, 2018 | Go to article overview

John Curtis: The U.S. Is Missing the Mark on Health Care Policy


Curtis, John, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


It is no secret that our health care system is not working.

According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the United States spends more money on health care per person than any other country. In 2016 alone, the United States spent nearly twice as much as 10 other wealthy countries: The United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Denmark.

You might expect a country investing so much in health care to actually be healthier. Unfortunately, when compared to those same 10 countries, the United States has the shortest life expectancy and the highest infant mortality rates.

Over the last several years, our health care debate has largely focused on insurance coverage — who should pay for it and how expansive the federal government’s role should be. In doing so, leaders have fundamentally transformed the public’s understanding of what our health care system can sustainably provide, and neglected a necessary focus on ensuring that system is providing results proportionate to our investment. We are missing the mark.

One of the greatest challenges we face in health care is striking a balance between quality care and sustainable cost. The first step to addressing this issue requires targeting solutions focused on reducing large drivers of U.S. health care spending: the price of labor and goods, the cost of treating chronic — and often preventable — diseases, and overwhelming administrative costs. According to that same American Medical Association study, the U.S. spends 8 percent of its health care expenditures on administrative costs, while other wealthy countries spend 3 percent. And that’s only the beginning.

I recently sat down with health care experts from Intermountain in Salt Lake City to discuss some of the challenges they face and to hear how our local health care innovators are adapting to meet them. I left that conversation with a few simple guiding principles that I believe will serve as a step in the right direction to both improving health outcomes and reining in unsustainable costs. …

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