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Health Care: How Can We Reduce Costs and Still Get the Care We Need? (NIFI Issue Guide)

The National Issues Forums Institute published the Issue Guide, Health Care: How Can We Reduce Costs and Still Get the Care We Need?, in April 2015. This guide is to help facilitate deliberation on the issues around the entire US healthcare system.

NIFI_HealthcareCostsFrom the guide…

Americans have good reason to worry about the high costs of health care. Medical bills are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy. Nationally, health care spending threatens the nation’s long-term solvency. We urgently need to find ways to make our health care system financially sustainable.

Health Care: How Can We Reduce Costs and Still Get the Care we Need? clarifies this difficult challenge and offers three options to address issues through changes in the way hospitals and doctors function, end of life care, unhealthy lifestyles, smoking habits, employee wellness, health insurance, childbirth procedures, the pharmaceutical industry and reforms in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act. It’s a balanced, open-minded look at the entire healthcare system—one that moves the discussion beyond the current political debate.

The Issue Guide presents three options for deliberation:

Option One: “As a Nation and as Individuals We Need to Live within Our Means”
The problem is we spend more than any other developed country on health care without questioning whether more is always better. Reining in spending is a matter of tightening our belts and sticking to a budget even if it means sacrifice.

Option Two: “Make Health Care More Transparent, Accountable, and Efficient”
The biggest driver of health care spending is the design of the US health care system- or rather the lack of design. The system needs regulation or incentives, or both, to instill financial discipline and end greed and abuse.

Option Three: “Take Responsibility for Lowering Health Care Costs by Focusing on Wellness”
Our own unhealthy behaviors- smoking, excessive drinking, drug abuse, lack of exercise, and more- are driving up health care costs. Collective and individual efforts in improve healthy behaviors are the key to lowering costs.

More about the NIFI Issue Guides
NIFI’s Issue Guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, Issue Guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

Issue Guides are generally available in print or PDF download for a small fee ($2 to $4). All NIFI Issue Guides and associated tools can be accessed at www.nifi.org/en/issue-guides.

Follow on Twitter: @NIForums.

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/en/issue-guide/health-care

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