Healthcare services have been on the minds of consumers for decades. Consumers are frustrated by bureaucracies and politics, all while healthcare costs skyrocket. Today, healthcare spending nears $2.7 trillion per year. By 2021, it will reach $4.8 trillion constituting 20% of our gross domestic product. Consumers face a patch-work of insurance schemes and they must meet eligibility requirements tied to military service, employment, age and income level. Politicians cannot agree on who should bear the cost of care and how narrowly or broadly government should specify what treatments are covered.
The one bright light is our success in medical research. US healthcare has been remarkably productive in pharmaceutical research, and consequently each year it provides patients with effective new treatments and even some cures. However, genetic and biosimilar research has produced new treatments and drugs, although the Food & Drug Administration has been slow to authorize them. Some of the new treatments and cures are priced at levels beyond a patient’s reach, in part by benefits plans that become a costly part of the supply chain.
Amid the complexity and challenges in the healthcare sector, there are potential opportunities to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. Reducing costs will also improve patient access to affordable treatments. Future work on the Lost EconomyTM will investigate workable policy solutions in the delivery of healthcare products and services.