Ginsburg Testifies Before U.S. Senate Finance Committee on Health Care Costs
No Silver Bullet to Make Health Care Cost Containment Painless
June 3, 2008
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WASHINGTON, DCHow the United States finances health
care and our pervasive unwillingness to confront the difficult trade-offs inherent
in containing costs, improving quality and expanding coverage contribute to
the seemingly intractable problem of stemming rising health care costs, economist
Paul Ginsburg, Ph.D., president of the Center for Studying Health System Change
(HSC), told the U.S. Senate Finance Committee today.
"Reflecting on the U.S. experience with health care cost containment,
what is striking is the consistency with which leaders in both the public and
private sectors have avoided the idea that real cost containment involves real
sacrifice-patients going without services that may provide some benefit, or
physicians, hospitals and insurers settling for smaller incomes or profits,"
Ginsburg testified at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on "Rising
Costs, Low Quality in Health Care: The Necessity for Reform."
In his testimony, Ginsburg made three main points:
- By any measure-per-capita spending and share of gross domestic product (GDP),
for example-U.S. spending on health care is greater than other developed countries.
In 2006, the United States spent $2.1 trillion, or 16 percent of GDP, on health
care, translating to $7,026 per person annually. But unlike other developed
countries, which provide near-universal coverage, 47 million people in 2006,
or 15.8 percent of the U.S. population, were uninsured.
- The enormous amount of money spent on medical care in the United States
does not appear to buy us outstanding health. Again, by almost any measure,
ranging from infant mortality to preventable deaths, the United States does
not measure up well against other developed nations.
- Cost-containment and quality-improvement efforts are essential if
Americans are to get better value for the tremendous amount of money spent on
U.S. health care and to avoid an increasing proportion of our society lacking
access to mainstream care.
Ginsburgs testimony is available online at http://hschange.org/CONTENT/987/.
The Center for Studying Health System Change is a nonpartisan policy research
organization committed to providing objective and timely research on the nations
changing health system to help inform policy makers and contribute to better
health care policy. HSC, based in Washington, D.C., is funded principally by
the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is affiliated with Mathematica Policy