The Need to Address Real Drivers of Healthcare Costs

The Need to Address Real Drivers of Healthcare Costs

07.20.11 | By

You should check-out the piece by Ken Thorpe that recently ran in U.S. News & World Report's Health section. The piece is entitled: Health Reform That Passes the Buck Is Short-Sighted. Writing on how we need to do a better job addressing cost drivers in healthcare, Dr. Thorpe points out:

"Rising rates of largely preventable chronic illnesses are a key driver of rising spending in Medicare and Medicaid. For Medicare, six conditions-diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, asthma and pulmonary disease, arthritis, and depression account for 40 percent of the growth in Medicare spending. These increases are all the result of the rising share of seniors treated for these conditions. In Medicare, the prevalence of diabetes has doubled since 1987 to 22 percent, while treatment for mental disorders tripled to 23 percent over the same period. Over 95 percent of spending in Medicare is linked to chronically ill patients-including 50 percent of Medicare patients treated for five or more conditions during the year. Yet, in traditional Medicare there is no care coordination at all. As a result, Medicare will spend $250 billion over the next decade on potential preventable hospital readmissions that effective care coordination could largely eliminate."

Dr. Thorpe is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor and chairman of the Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. He was deputy assistant secretary for health policy from 1993 to 1995. Dr. Thorpe also heads the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, a coalition of hundreds of patient, provider, community, business and labor groups, and health policy experts, committed to raising awareness of the number one cause of death, disability and rising health care costs: chronic disease.

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