Can Healthcare Become Affordable?

By Jill | Editorial

It’s no secret that healthcare costs have been rising steadily for years and the numbers tell the story. Adjusted for inflation, Americans spent $75 billion for healthcare in 1970 and $2.6 trillion in 2010. And that number is expected to almost double by 2021, accounting for 20% of America’s Gross National Product—one-fifth of all economic activity. And according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), hospital spending in the U.S. is more than 60 percent higher than other industrialized nations. Spending on physicians, specialists and dentists is almost 2 ½-times higher. So what can be done?

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Shine a Light on Wellness: Modern healthcare costs are soaring due to chronic conditions that are entirely preventable. Obesity, which leads to hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and many types of cancer, costs the United States $117 billion in health care spending annually. Simple lifestyle choices and early detection and management of risk factors can make millions of American healthier while dramatically lowering healthcare expenditures. A major investment in school and community-based health programs would more than pay for itself.

Coordinate Care: The U.S. healthcare system is fragmented and complicated. Many patients find it difficult to navigate the system and obtain the care they need at the right time and the right place. This especially impacts those with chronic illnesses. When their conditions are not properly managed complications can lead to expensive ER care. Doctors and hospitals need to work together to coordinate care. Options for palliative care and hospice services at home need to be expanded. The Commonwealth Fund estimates that strengthening primary care