HCPLive Network
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT

U.S. Health Care System Improving, But at Slow Rate

Jacquelyn Gray | Saturday, November 16, 2013
The U.S. health care system is still performing poorly in some aspects, and is improving at a slower rate than similar countries, according to the Nov. 13 issue of JAMA.
 
Hamilton Moses III, MD, and other researchers from The Boston Consulting Group and the University of Rochester used public data that ranged from 1980 to 2011 to analyze the American health care system. They concluded that while there has been a priority to health care, the U.S. is still behind the curve in improvements.
 
“Government funding increased from 31.1% in 1980 to 42.3% in 2011,” the researchers wrote. “Despite the increases in resources devoted to health care, multiple health metrics, including life expectancy at birth and survival with many diseases, shows the United States trailing peer nations.”
 
The authors also acknowledged other economic effects caused by the health care system, including the influence health care has on the workforce. Health care expenditures as a percent of GDP have doubled since 1980 to 17.9%. Despite the fact that yearly growth has decreased, especially since 2002, it is still growing at 3%, which exceeds overall GDP and any other industry.
 
The study debunked the misconception that demand for services and aging have led the increase of health care costs; however, the authors found that hospital charges, professional services, drugs and devices, and administrative costs produced 91% of cost increases since 2000.
 
Researchers also called attention to the cost of chronic illnesses.
 
“In 2011, chronic illnesses account for 84% of costs overall among the entire population, not only of the elderly,” the study found. Chronic illness costs are not predominantly attributed by the elderly. “Chronic illness among individuals younger than 65 years accounts for 67% of spending,” the researchers wrote.
 
The researchers blame this shift in costs to a trifecta of reasons. They say that a culmination of information technology, consolidation of “fewer general hospitals and more single-specialty hospitals and physician groups” and the role of a patient as a consumer has caused a change in priorities.
 
“Clinicians increasingly are expected to substitute social and economic goals for the needs of a single patient,” the authors wrote.



RELATED ARTICLES
Most Americans know that a given medical service could cost a significantly different amount depending on where one receives the service, but only recently have cost data about healthcare charges become widely available and widely discussed. National Nurses United earlier this year evaluated US hospitals to find out how much they charge for a procedure versus the actual cost of performing the procedure.
If you somehow managed to avoid the 5 worst trading days each year, you could have earned a staggeringly high return on your investments. Here are a list of other surprising figures that could have a significant impact on your wallet.
There are cycles to markets and no one really knows when a small hiccup or a seismic shift may occur. Although the market over the past weeks has rattled some investors, the advice from advisors seems to be hold your course and do not do anything rash.
RECENT CLINICAL ARTICLES
Seniors who wear their dentures when they sleep are at increased risk for pneumonia, according to a study published online Oct. 7 in the Journal of Dental Research.
New York and New Jersey health officials announced today that all health care workers returning from caring for patients in Ebola hot zones in West Africa will have to go into quarantine for 21 days. The new policy is stricter than the current one recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that calls for health monitoring for 21 days. It was that policy that allowed Craig Spencer, MD to be out and about a day before he was diagnosed with Ebola Thursday and rushed to city-run Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan.
There is little variation in risk-adjusted hospital readmission rates after colorectal surgery, according to a study published online Oct. 22 in JAMA Surgery.