BIG QUESTION: WILL WE REALLY PAY LESS FOR HEALTH CARE?
March 26, 2010
Medical costs are rising fast:
- Costs are up 5.7 percent from last year, while the economy declined 1.1 percent, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
- In the next 10 years, health spending is projected to rise 6.1 percent, reaching $4.5 trillion, or nearly 20 percent of the economy.
Several initiatives in the law are designed to hold down costs, but some critics and even proponents of the new health reform legislation say it won't do enough to slow down the trend, says USA TODAY:
- Pilot programs will promote physician and hospital services under one roof, as well as paying for effective prevention and management of illness; that's a change from today's practice of paying for each visit or medical test.
- An Independent Payment Advisory Board will study and offer recommendations on holding down both private sector and Medicare spending.
- A demonstration program will research the effectiveness of medical procedures, so doctors and other health care providers can adopt best practices.
- Programs will be established to standardize insurance forms, codes and billing procedures.
- In addition, at least 85 percent of group plan premiums and 80 percent of individual plan premiums must be spent on care; insurers who don't hit the mark will have to offer refunds.
Many health experts say the pilot programs could result in lower costs for consumers. These savings are far from certain, however, and others say much more could have been done to bring down costs.
Source: Richard Wolf, "Big question: Will we really pay less for health care?" USA TODAY, March 25, 2010.
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