Systemwide Changes Needed to Restrain Health Care Spending

Access to tools and information will allow families to make better, more informed medical choices

FRIDAY, Sept. 19, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Systemwide changes are necessary to prevent excessive health care spending, and so are tools to help consumers make better, more informed medical choices, according to a white paper published in June by Vitals.

Although mandatory insurance under the Affordable Care Act has improved access to care, improving the system and making health care affordable have not yet been attained, with more than one in four families reportedly struggling with medical debt.

According to the report, compared with household income, the cost of health care has risen significantly, and new high-deductible health benefit plans are shifting greater financial responsibility for out-of-pocket expenses to consumers. This can result in debt, with medical debt identified as the leading cause of bankruptcy in the country. Many families exhaust their savings, lose long-term assets, and delay needed care to avoid medical bills. To restrain health care spending, new strategies are necessary. Cost and quality implications of care need to be understood, and tools and information to provide increased transparency are essential to allow families to make better and more informed medical choices.

"Systemwide, changes that streamline care, reduce waste and improve efficiency are necessary, but delivering tools that help consumers access quality care at affordable costs is an important first step," according to the report.

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