Ezekial Emanuel MD PHD made the following statement in the JAMA (2/27/08): Health care reform has become equated exclusively with expanding coverage to the 47 million uninsured Americans. This is a mistake. . we need to focus on cost.
Health care costs are much higher in the US than anywhere else in the world. We spend more than $8000 per person each year on health care while other developed countries average about half that much. This amounts to total health care expenditures of about $2.5 trillion per year, of which $1.5 trillion comes from public taxation with the remainder from private sources of health care funding (private employers and individuals). The reason we have so many uninsured people in the US is that health care costs too much. We can not pretend to solve the problem of the uninsured if we do not first reduce our health care costs.
There are two principle problems causing high health care costs: 1) poor quality care (which costs an estimated $700 billion per year); and 2) inefficient health care financing (which costs an estimated $400 billion per year). If we were to reorganize our health care system so that we provided higher quality care (less inappropriate care, less patient injury, and more timely, clinically sound care) and paid for it more efficiently (lower the administrative cost of payment to below 5% of the health care revenue stream), we could save $1 trillion per year. And we would virtually eliminate our future unfunded federal debt.