Health Care Costs Presented as a Crisis Influences Political Decisions

Washington, DC – The issue of rising health care costs has been labeled a “crisis” as far back as 1969, with every US president since then acknowledging the problem. However, the constant declaration of a crisis has led some to question the impact of this label on actual policy changes.

According to a recent column by health policy expert Drew Altman, the ongoing use of the “crisis” label may have unintended consequences, as it often requires immediate action. Altman argues that the national health care expenditure crisis and the crisis involving costs for individuals should be examined separately. He warns that addressing the second crisis through measures like increasing health insurance subsidies could exacerbate the first one.

Altman, the President of the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), has been instrumental in establishing it as a respected source for health policy research, polling, and news. He emphasizes the need to tackle the policy environment as it is, rather than as we wish it would be in addressing rising health care costs.

The article also delves into the issue of individual health care costs, citing an investigation by KFF Health News and partner organizations which concluded that millions of Americans are burdened with medical debt. However, it raises questions about the methodology used to arrive at this figure and whether there is substantial evidence beyond the survey results to support it.

Furthermore, the article suggests that there might be a need for more transparency not just in pricing but also in the quality of medical care. Altman notes the need to address high hospital prices and supports the idea of making pricing transparent but does not delve into the aspect of transparency regarding care outcomes.

The piece also highlights the potential impact of the crisis label on public perception, comparing it to “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” It emphasizes the need for a more nuanced approach to addressing rising health care costs, taking into account the diverse perspectives and experiences of those affected by medical debt.

Overall, the article calls for a more comprehensive and critical examination of the health care cost crisis, acknowledging the complexities involved and the potential impact of policy responses on individuals and the healthcare system as a whole.