December 20, 2016

Simplistic arguments on healthcare cost growth

Technology Growth and Expenditure Growth in Health Care

After all these years of great recession, there is an argument that should be reviewed. There was a consensus that technology and ageing were forces that would increase costs. Today, we know that costs have stagnated and we are spending less resources over GDP than 7 years ago. Therefore, something has happened that requires an assessment. Maybe a delay on the introduction of innovation, maybe an increase in productivity, maybe a reduction in its costs/prices, we don't know it. Therefore health costs are not predestined to grow forever.
This is exactly what this article said about it:
Attributing cost growth and improvements in outcomes to “technology growth” is too simplistic and tells us little about where the cost growth is occurring, whether such growth should be tamed, and if so, how it should be done
 The key point is that U.S. growth in health care costs is neither inevitable nor necessarily beneficial for overall productivity gains. Instead, cost growth is the  aggregated outcome of a large number of fragmented decisions regarding the use and  spread of both old and new health technologies.
There is wide heterogeneity in the productivity of medical treatments, ranging from very high (aspirin for heart attacks and surfactants for premature births) to low (stents for stable angina), or simply zero (arthroscopy for osteoarthritis of the knee).