Health Care Costs: What You Need to Know

April 1, 2015

The briefing explored the trends in health care costs in both the public and private sectors. It explained recent moderate growth rates, along with possible reasons and prospects for the future. This session was especially helpful to congressional staff members new to the issue, but also served as a useful review for anyone working on health care policy.

What is driving health care costs? Will recent moderate growth rates continue? What new strategies and programs are lowering costs, or have the potential to do so? What proposals are under consideration to lower costs?

If you were unable to attend the briefing, here are some key takeaways:
Gary Claxton, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, director of its Health Care Marketplace Project and co-director of the Program for the Study of Health Reform and Private Insurance
In response to the debate surrounding the causes of slowdown in health care cost growth, Gary Claxton explained how the next few years will be telling. If the slowdown was primarily caused by economic downturn, the health care spending growth rate will increase and return to the traditional pattern of health care spending. If the structural reforms dominate, we may see a longer period of slow growth, he continued.

Joe Antos, Wilson H. Taylor Scholar in Health Care and Retirement Policy, American Enterprise Institute
Since the 1960s, health care spending for hospitals and physicians has remained a constant percentage of total health care expenditures. But, due to medical innovation, pharmaceutical spending grew substantially in the 1990s, Joe Antos stated.

The system drives higher spending because fee-for-service promotes the use of more expensive services. Conversely, financial incentives also promote innovation, Joe Antos also noted.

Jeffrey Selberg, executive director of the Peterson Center on Healthcare
A study funded by the Peterson Center on Healthcare at the Stanford Center for Clinical Excellence found that only 5 percent of primary care practices surveyed were low cost and high quality. These exemplary providers need to become the standard, Jeffrey Selberg stated.

Drew Altman of Kaiser co-moderated with Marilyn Serafini of the Alliance.

Follow the briefing on Twitter: #HCcosts

Contact: Marilyn Serafini (202)789-2300

The event was sponsored by the nonpartisan Alliance for Health Reform and The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.


Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Speaker Presentations

Drew Altman Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Gary Claxton Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Joseph Antos Presenation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Event Details

Agenda (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Speaker Biographies (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Event Resources