The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the use of financial subsidies to offset the cost of health insurance for individuals and families, preserving a key cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act. While we’re happy that millions of Americans will retain access to affordable health insurance, there is still much more work to be done to truly reform health care.
Health care costs are unsustainable, straining household budgets and the greater economy. For every dollar Americans spend, 16 cents goes to health care, up from seven cents in 1970. The U.S. has the most expensive health care system in the world, yet it scores worst among industrialized countries when it comes to health outcomes, quality and efficiency.
As a more than $3 trillion chunk of the U.S. economy, there’s no one secret to reforming the health care system. It certainly can’t be written into any one law, and it can’t be accomplished by any one stakeholder group working on its own.
It’s in our collective best interest to make sure people are as healthy as they can be, that they have the right care available at the right time and in the right setting, and that the care is of the highest quality possible. These should be considered foundational elements of managing the cost of care.
At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, we’re working hard to build partnerships that address the root causes of high health care costs to keep coverage as affordable as possible. In the last 10 years, we’ve led efforts with thousands of physicians, hospitals of all sizes, and other care providers, to reinvent Michigan health care. The result has been a more efficient, high quality, less costly health care system.
We’ve enlisted the help of providers to build new payment models that incentivize quality of care over quantity, models that have been adopted by more than half of all hospitals and nearly two-thirds of all physicians in Michigan. We’ve launched quality-improvement initiatives with hospitals across Michigan focusing on more than 20 common and high-cost surgical and medical disciplines. At more than 4,300 designated physicians at 1,500 clinics, our Patient-Centered Medical Home Program is the nation’s largest of its kind, giving millions of Michiganders access to enhanced primary care. And we partner with other organizations to provide health care access to uninsured patients, combat childhood obesity and promote public health.
But we are only one small piece of a massive, complicated health care industry.
We are all in this together — government, businesses, insurers, hospitals, providers and patients. The sooner we put side our differences and work together toward our shared goals, the faster we will realize true health reform.
Daniel J. Loepp is president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Flickr photo by Phalinn Ooi